French mayor Robert Ménard has been fined by the government for hate speech after mentioning that French children were being “replaced” in schools in his town.Mr. Ménard, who serves as the mayor of Béziers, was sentenced to a fine of 2,000 euros for the comments he made on Twitter in September of 2016, France 24 reports. The independent mayor, who is supported by the Front National, then told local television station LCI a few days after making the post: “In a class in the city centre of my town, 91 per cent of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this is a problem. There are limits to tolerance”.
Ménard wrote he was witnessing “The Great Replacement”, a term used by the French populist right and coined by openly gay prolific French author Renaud Camus.
According to Camus’ theory, France and Western Europe are undergoing a cultural and demographic replacement due to mass migration. He argues the last time Europe underwent such a rapid transformation was during the so-called barbarian invasions during the collapse of the Roman Empire in the third century.
The judge in the hate speech case against Ménard assigned one thousand euros for the hate speech and another thousand euros to cover the court costs of the seven anti-racist organisations who brought the matter to court including the League for Human Rights and SOS Racisme, two organisations who have received funding from left-wing billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations in the past.
The prosecutor in the case denounced the comments saying of Ménard: “He reduces them to their religion, regardless of whether they have French nationality or do not practice this religion.” Ménard’s lawyer framed the issue as an infringement on freedom of speech and told the court not to pass “a death penalty of the freedom to think”.
“If the truth, what we see, becomes an offence, we can never say anything again,” Ménard said. “I have described a situation, I have said what all the elected officials find and never dare to say,” adding: “To leave them like that is to condemn them. That’s why I’m trying to solve this problem.”
Ménard supports Marine Le Pen in the French presidential race and shares many of the same views on mass migration. Le Pen has promised that if elected she will get France out of the open-border Schengen agreement and has proposed to deport foreign radical Islamists following the shooting on the Champs Élysées that killed a police officer last Friday.