Six convicted for harassing French teenager over anti-Islam rant

·2 min read

A French court convicted six people on Tuesday for harassing a teenager online over her anti-Islam videos in a case that sparked debate about freedom of expression, blasphemy, religion and hate speech in France.

The girl, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection due to threats to her life after videos in which she insulted Islam went viral in January and November 2020.

The court handed sentences ranging from a three-month suspended prison term to four months with an electronic bracelet to the two men and four women, aged 19 to 39.

The six were ordered to pay damages of 3,000 euros each to Mila.

"Their conviction was necessary," said Mila's lawyer Richard Malka, adding he felt no satisfaction at seeing them sentenced.

"My only satisfaction would be if Mila were able to lead a normal life [...] and that is not the case."

In the first video posted on Instagram in January 2020, Mila responded to personal abuse from a boy who she says insulted her about her sexuality "in the name of Allah".

She launched into an expletive-laden rant against Islam along with other explicit comments about Allah deemed highly offensive to practising Muslims.

She published a second video with similar content in November of the same year.

Mila's lawyer says she received over 100,000 extremely virulent messages in response to the videos, with one person writing that Mila deserved "to have her throat cut", while others threatened sexual assault.

In July 2021, a French court convicted 11 people for harassment and handed suspended sentences, with some ordered to pay damages of 1,500 euros.

The case has received widespread public attention because it touches on hotly contested issues in France, including cyber harassment, the right to blaspheme and attitudes to religious minorities.

(with AFP)

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