French perfumer Guerlain fined for racist statements
News server Le Parisien reports that a court in Paris has decided that 75-year-old perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain made racist remarks about black people in a 2010 incident and has fined him EUR 6 000. The state prosecutor sought a fine of at least EUR 7 500 during last month's trial.
Guerlain, a descendant of the founder of the famous Guerlain brand of cosmetics and perfume and a long-term associate of the company, made the remarks during a live interview on the main news program of the public broadcasting television station France 2 in October 2010. He used the expression "niggers" and defamed black members of the population, saying they were not hardworking. His words sparked a wave of protests around the country which his immediate apology did not stop.
"I said something crass... I wanted to get a laugh out of the moderator, but I regret it. I regret it very deeply and I apologize to the black community for my crassness," Guerlain told the court last month.
Guerlain has worked for the firm for 47 years and created many famous perfumes for it. He continued to work even after retiring in 2002, but the company immediately ceased its collaboration with him after he made the controversial statements.
The parties accusing Guerlain of racism for his 2010 remarks say they were based in a deeply rooted racism fed by colonial stereotypes. "Those remarks are exceptionally serious," a representative of the black civic organization ANC testified to the court.
Guerlain's attorney assured the court that his client has never been a racist. As evidence of this, he referred to the fact that Jean-Paul Guerlain had frequently traveled to Senegal and other African countries to search for raw materials for his perfumes with the assistance of local partners.