France: Journalist sentenced to six months for racist articles about immigrants from the Maghreb and Romani people
The website France Bleu reports that an unusually harsh verdict has been handed down in France in the matter of two racist articles published in August 2015 by the Petit Journal Catalan weekly. Journalist Rodolphe Crevelle, who is known for his extreme right-wing positions, attempted to obliterate the reputation of North African immigrants from the Maghreb and members of the Romani community (specifically, the Catalan Gitanos) through his pieces.
Crevelle will now go behind bars for six months for inciting discrimination and hatred and must pay a fine of EUR 20 000, while publisher Alain Paga must pay that same fine and has been sentenced to two months in prison. The articles sparked arguments and controversy at the time.
In his first article, Crevelle compared the inhabitants of Cassanyes Square, who are originally from the Maghreb, to "Martians", while in the second article he spoke of Romani people as "former chicken thieves who abuse social contributions and welfare support today." Olivier Amiel, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the punishment was "stringent, but deserved."
"It has been a shock, not just for the entire community of Romani people in Perpignan, but also in Arles, Béziers and Montpellier. We are Roma, but we must never forget that we are French citizens," emphasized Joseph Saadna, chair of the civic association "Comité animation de la Place du Puig", which organizes recreational activities locally.
The decision also obliges the periodical to publish a news report about the verdict in an article equivalent to half a page in length in one of its upcoming issues. France Bleu reports that Crevelle, who the publisher says no longer works for the weekly, did not take its calls seeking comment, while Paga is still deciding whether to appeal.
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