France have ordered prosecutors to severely crackdown on what they perceive to be “hate speech”, anti-Semitism, and “glorifying terrorism”.
France also announced that they would be sending an aircraft carrier to the Middle East to work more closely with the U.S. in fighting Islamic militants.
Since last week French authorities have confirmed that they have arrested 54 people so far for hate speech and “defending terrorism”. Those arrested include four minors and a famous comic – none of them have any links to the Paris attacks.
Death of free speech in France?
The Huffington Post reports:
Since the attacks, France has deployed 10,000 troops and 120,000 security forces in an area the size of Texas to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and travel hubs.
France has been tightening security and searching for accomplices since the terror attacks began, but none of the 54 people mentioned Wednesday have been linked to the attacks. That’s raising questions about whether Hollande’s Socialist government is impinging on the very freedom of speech that it so vigorously defends when it comes to Charlie Hebdo.
Among those detained was Dieudonne, a popular and controversial comic who has repeated convictions for racism and anti-Semitism.
Like many European countries, France has strong laws against hate speech, especially anti-Semitism in the wake of the Holocaust.
In a message distributed to all French prosecutors and judges, the Justice Ministry laid out the legal basis for rounding up those who defend the Paris terror attacks as well as those responsible for racist or anti-Semitic words or acts. The order did not mention Islam.
The Justice Ministry said the 54 people included four minors and several had already been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing. Inciting terrorism can bring a 5-year prison term — or up to 7 years for inciting terrorism online.
In its message to prosecutors and judges, the ministry said it was issuing the order to protect freedom of expression from comments that could incite violence or hatred. It said no one should be allowed to use their religion to justify hate speech.