French gov’t mulls law against anti-Semitism speech on social media: PM

French gov’t mulls law against anti-Semitism speech on social media: PM

PARIS, Feb. 19 (Rahnuma): French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Tuesday that the government has been considering legislation to fight against hate speech and anti-Semitism on social media amid rising anti-Jewish offenses.

Philippe said a bill preventing “proliferation of hateful, anti-Semitic or racist words on social networks” was on the table to address an “anti-Semitism, which is deeply rooted in French society,” according to local magazine, L’Express.

Website hosts should withdraw the offensive contents and create an atmosphere that respects the French law, he said. “I know there are some obstacles, and my objective is not to constrain the freedom of expression.”

On Tuesday, Philippe will join a high-profile march in Paris to denounce a resurgence of violence against Jews and other anti-Semitism acts.

The move came after a video was shared on social media that showed a “Yellow Vest” protester shouting anti-Semitic insults at philosopher and writer Alain Finkielkraut during demonstrations in Paris last Saturday.

Alain Finkielkraut has written books and essays on a wide range of topics, many on the ideas of tradition and identity nonviolence, including Jewish identity and anti-Semitism.

“We must be totally determined… to fight (anti-Semitism), with the clear conscience that this combat is old and will last a long time,” Philippe said.

France is home to more than 460,000 Jewish people, the biggest community in Europe. In recent years there have been a number of high-profile attacks targeting the Jewish community, most notably the killing of four Jews in south France in March 2012 by a self-styled Islamist.

Statistics by the French Interior Ministry showed that Anti-Semitic acts increased by a year-on-year 74 percent to 541 acts in 2018.

In March 2018, Mireille Knoll, a Holocaust survivor was found dead in her apartment in Paris. She had been stabbed multiple times before her flat was set on fire. There have also been a number of Jewish tombs desecrated and anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on walls near synagogues.

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