Application Number 18788/09
European Court of Human Rights[Judgment delivered in French]
This case involved an application brought by the president of the French National Front for the alleged breach of his Article 10 rights due to his conviction for inciting hatred against Muslims during an interview with Le Monde newspaper. He stated, inter alia, that ‘when I tell people that when we have 25 million Muslims in France we French will have to watch our step, they often reply, ‘But Le Pen, that is already the case now!’ – and they are right. The ECtHR found that the applicant’s statements were of such nature as to promote rejection of and hostility against the targeted community, in this case the Muslim community. The application was considered manifestly ill-founded.
Theme(s): Religious Hatred
Date: 20 April 2010
Description of applicant(s): President of the National Front Party
Brief description of facts: In 2005, the applicant was fined 10,000 Euros for ‘incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence towards a group of people because of their origin or their membership or non-membership of a specific ethnic group, nation, race or religion,’ on account of statements he had made about Muslims in France in an interview with Le Monde. He asserted, among other things, that “the day there are no longer 5 million but 25 million Muslims in France, they will be in charge.” In 2006, the Paris Court of Appeal sentenced him to another fine, in the same amount, after he commented on the initial fine, in the following terms, in the weekly Rivarol: “When I tell people that when we have 25 million Muslims in France we French will have to watch our step, they often reply: ‘But Mr Le Pen, that is already the case now!’ – and they are right.” Appeals were dismissed.
(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Muslims
Court’s assessment of impugned speech: The ECtHR found that the applicant’s statements were of such nature as to promote rejection of and hostility against the targeted community, in this case the Muslim community. To this end, it considered it to fall outside the framework of protected speech, finding the application manifestly ill-founded.
Important paragraph(s) from the judgment:
The Court noted, however, that the applicant’s words were certainly capable of giving a negative, and even worrying, image of the “Muslim community” as a whole. It notes that in the judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal, the latter undertook an analysis of the applicant’s remarks in order to deduce that he instilled in the minds of the public the conviction that the safety of the French lay in the rejection of Muslims and that worry and fear, linked to their growing presence in France, would cease if their number decreased and if they disappeared.
The Court also considered that the applicant’s words were likely to arouse a feeling of rejection and hostility towards the targeted community, taking into account the meaning and scope which he gave both to his message and to the concept of “people” that he used.
ECHR Article: Article 10
Decision: Manifestly ill-founded.
Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Court in its assessment? No
Note! The translation from French to English is our own.