When members of a small French far-right nationalist group, Génération Identitaire, occupied a mosque under construction in Poitiers in 2012 and said they were celebrating the anniversary of the battle of Poitiers (732 AD), in which Charles Martel defeated the army of the Ummayad Caliphate, thereby routing the Arab invasion of France, the prosecutor of the Republic of France launched an immediate investigation for “incitement to racial hatred.” Five of the activists were arrested, indicted, and this month, sentenced to one-year suspended prison sentences. The court sentenced four of them to deprivation of their civic rights (such as the right to vote in elections) for the next five years. In addition, the Génération Identitaire organization had to pay a fine of 10,000 euros, and the four activists had to pay a fine of 24,000 euros to the organization “Muslims of France” (“Musulmans de France”), which is the owner of the mosque and the legal representative in France of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement. If the fine is not paid, the activists will go to jail.
The lawyer for Génération Identitaire, Frederic Pichon, said he was “flabbergasted by the severity of the sentence” and that the decision was “political”. “I cannot help comparing it with the incredible impunity that… Femen received when it burst into the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris,” he said.
Pichon was referring to a 2013 incident, in which members of the feminist group Femen had burst topless into Notre Dame Cathedral, were accused of damaging a bell, and in 2015, were acquitted by the Paris court of appeals. Two of the security officers who drove the perpetrators received fines.