Eric Zemmour: Far-right French presidential candidate convicted of inciting racial hatred over migrant children comments

A far-right candidate in the French presidential election has been convicted of inciting racial hated over remarks about migrant children in 2020.

Eric Zemmour has been fined 10,000 euros (£8,350) and must pay several thousand euros in damages to anti-racism groups.

It’s the third hate speech conviction for the ex-TV pundit, who is hoping to replace Emmanuel Macron in April off the back of anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric.

Zemmour went on trial in November charged with “public insult” and “incitement to hatred or violence” against people due to national, ethnic, religious or racial origin.

The case centred on comments in September 2020 to broadcaster CNews about children who migrate to France without parents or a guardian.

He said: “They’re thieves, they’re murderers, they’re rapists. That’s all they are. We must send them back. These people cost us money.”

Zemmour didn’t withdraw his comments and insisted political debate should not be taking place in court. He also claimed prosecutors and anti-racism groups were trying to “intimidate” him.

It isn’t the end of his legal troubles – on Thursday he will face an appeal trial on a charge of contesting crimes against humanity, which is illegal in France.

That follows a 2019 TV debate in which he argued that Marshal Philippe Petain, head of the collaborationist Vichy government during the Second World War, saved French Jews from the Holocaust.

Zemmour was acquitted last year, saying that his comments did negate Petain’s role in the extermination, but that the court did not convicted him as he had spoken in the heat of the moment.

Lawyers plan to cite similar comments he’s made recently as evidence in the appeal.

Zemmour’s other convictions are for inciting racial hatred in 2010 after trying to justify discrimination against black and Arab people.

In 2016, he was convicted of inciting racial hatred over anti-Islam comments.

He has faced other cases but been acquitted.

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