March 7, 2017, the 17th Chamber of the Tribunal Correctionel of Paris acquitted Georges Bensoussan, a Jewish Moroccan-born historian, of any “incitement of racial hatred” (“provocation à la haine raciale“).
On January 25, 2017, all of France’s “anti-racist” organizations — even the Jewish International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) — joined the Islamist Collective Against Islamophobia (CCIF) in court against Bensoussan. He was prosecuted for remarks he made in October 2015, during a debate on radio station France Culture about anti-Semitism among French Arabs. Benoussan said:
“An Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, with great courage, just said in a documentary aired on Channel 3: It is a shame to deny this taboo, namely that in the Arab families in France, and everyone knows it but nobody wants to say it, anti-Semitism is sucked with mother’s milk.”
The Islamist CCIF send the quote to the public prosecutor, who opened a case against Bensoussan. The charge was simple: “mother’s milk” was not a metaphor for cultural anti-Semitism transmitted through education, but a genetic and “essentialist” accusation. “Mother’s milk”, they claimed, means: “all Arabs are anti-Semitic” — in other words, that Bensoussan supposedly a racist.
The decision of the court to acquit of Bensoussan is a key moment for freedom of speech in France in general, and for the freedom to speak about Muslim anti-Semitism in France.
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