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French Teen's Anti-Islam Posts Lead to a Landmark Trial

13 are accused of threatening her online after she disparaged the religion
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2021 12:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Thirteen people went on trial Thursday in Paris accused of cyberbullying or death threats against a teenage girl who posted online comments critical of Islam. The case is the first such trial under new jurisdiction France created this year to prosecute crimes online, including harassment and discrimination, per the AP. The defendants, who are between 18 and 35 years old and from all around France, face up to two years in prison and 30,000 euros in fines (about $37,000) if convicted of online harassment. Some of the 13 are also accused of online death threats, an offense that carries a maximum prison sentence of three years and fine up to 45,000 euros ($55,000).

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The teenager who was targeted, who recently turned 18 and identifies herself online as Mila, posted videos last year on Instagram and TikTok savaging Islam and the Quran that were widely shared. She received death threats and other online abuse as a result, and was put under police protection and changed schools. The French government’s equality minister at the time called for tougher measures against cyberbullying, and President Emmanuel Macron defended Mila’s “right to blasphemy.” Freedom of expression is considered a fundamental right in secular France, and blasphemy is not a crime. Some French Muslims, however, feel their country unfairly stigmatizes their religious practices. After Mila’s initial video in January 2020, a legal complaint was filed against her for incitement to racial hatred. The investigation was dropped for lack of evidence.

(Read more France stories.)

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