The far-right French polemicist and politician Eric Zemmour has been sentenced to pay a fine of €4,000 for racist insults made during a television debate in 2018. He referred to the first name of fellow speaker Hapsatou Sy as an “insult to France”.
The former presidential candidate, president of the Reconquest! movement, absent during the judgment on Thursday, was also sentenced to €3,000 in damages and €2,000 in legal fees.
His lawyer, Olivier Pardo, has announced that he is appealing “against this decision which has no legal meaning”.
“It’s a great satisfaction”, on the contrary, estimated Antoine Vey, lawyer for Hapsatou Sy.
“Behind Hapsatou Sy’s fight, there is probably the recognition of a whole section of the French population,” he told French news agency AFP.
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On her Twitter account, Sy wrote “It is a great pride to have stood firm during all these years and to have been able to condemn Éric Zemmour for insulting a racist nature. My first name is my identity, my origins are my strength, and behind me, I hope that many other French people will feel liberated”.
Born in France to parents of Senegalese and Mauritanian heritage, Sy is an accomplished entrepreneur and television presenter.
Her legal complaint was filed with regards to remarks made during the public recording of a television program in September 2018 on the C8 a channel, in the Canal + group.
In the sequence, Hapsatou Sy, a former presenter for the channel, repeats her first name to Eric Zemmour who replies: “Your mother was wrong”.
“And what would you like my name to be?”, Sy asks. “Corinne”, replies Zemmour.
‘Insult to France’
The rest of the face-to-face conversation, cut during the editing, was caught on tape by a make-up artist.
Sy declares: “What you have just said is an insult to France”.
“Mademoiselle, it’s your first name which is an insult to France”, Zemmour replies.
Following the incident, Sy, broadcast the video social networks and filed a complaint.
The firebrand politician has been investigated 16 times in the past for his inflammatory comments, notably on immigration and Islam.
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In January 2022, the Paris Criminal Court handed Zemmour a €10,000 fine for racist hate speech after he called unaccompanied child migrants “thieves, murderers and rapists.”
He was sentenced in 2016 to a fine of €3,000 euros for provoking religious hatred.
Zemmour will be the subject of eight trials in Paris in 2023 after complaints related to comments he made.