Film Star Bardot Fined for Anti-Muslim Writings

European and US news outlets, including BBC News are  reporting that famous French film star, Brigitte Bardot (now 73, but a legend in the 1960s-1970s), has been fined yet again by a French court for violating laws against writing and speaking in ways that attack racial groups.  The BBC reports that she was fined for

inciting racial hatred. She was prosecuted over a letter published on her website that complained Muslims were “destroying our country by imposing their ways.” It is the fifth time Ms Bardot been convicted over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. The fine – equivalent to $23,000 – related to a letter she wrote in December 2006 to the then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which was published on her website, in which she deplored the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

As a prominent animal rights activist, she has also allied herself with those who vigorously oppose the Muslim immigrants to France:

She said she was “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”

In 2004, again according to BBC News, she was fined substantially for what was terms a “race hate” book, her book A Cry in Silence:

The charges against Bardot, 69, related to her best-seller, A Cry In The Silence, in which she said she “opposed the Islamisation of France.” Last month the former actress apologised in court, and said: “I never knowingly wanted to hurt anybody.” In her book she wrote about issues such as racial mixing, immigration, the role of women in politics and Islam. The book also contained a section attacking what she called the mixing of genes and praised previous generations who, she said, had given their lives to push out invaders.

For her anti-immigrant and anti-gene-mixing writings, she angered French anti-racism groups, and they started legal proceedings against her. She lost and the court ruled that:

“Madame Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent of wanting to exterminate them.” It awarded a symbolic one euro in damages to France’s anti-racism movement MRAP and to the League for Human Rights who brought the case to court. The court also ordered a 5,000 euro fine against the head of Bardot’s publishing house, Le Rocher, and ordered both to pay for advertisements in two newspapers announcing their convictions.

Reports note too that her husband is Bernard d’Ormal, who has been an adviser to the French racist-extremist group, the “Front National” party.

Anti-Muslim racist framing by this political party and by prominent whites like Bardot has spread rapidly across European countries and is also quite strong on the racist right in the United States, as a quick look at numerous arch-conservative US websites will reveal. With some types of racism being forced, at least to some modest degree, backstage among whites, it seems that those who wish to can more openly attack Muslims and Africans in Europe and Latin Americans in the US, especially the impoverished immigrants. In the United States Bardot could continue such racist commentaries with no fear of punishment, since we allow very harmful racist stuff perpetrated by those at the top of the racial hierarchy to hide behind extreme absolutist interpretations of the First Amendment in the United States. We have criticized this absolutist defense of racist speech by powerful whites here before, and Bardot’s case shows what some countries with more advanced human rights laws than our relatively backward country can do to at least reduce overt hate speech by those with power who are targeting those who are relatively powerless.

Comments

  1. Mordy

    Joe- Do you support a limit of our First Amendment right if it could silence hurtful messages like hers? It seems to me that this would be a direction our current administration would favor.

    And more generally speaking, how do you reconcile advocating tolerance of a religion on which so much of its beliefs seem to reject it? We need to look no further than their subjugation of women, though we could.

  2. Joe

    Mordy, those are good questions that really cannot be answered in short comments. Jessie has an excellent earlier post, http://www.racismreview.com/blog/?p=78, that deals with the issues of the powerful hiding racist speech behind the 1st amendment. Please check it out.

    Viciously racist and continuing attacks on people of color, like recurring nooses in US and constant attacks on immigrants as “vermin” as in France play a key role historically in anti-black and other violence, including pogroms and Holocausts. Should such attacks be allowed when they are clearly linked to violent attacks? Who gets to decide is yet another question.

    It is interesting too that European countries like France have far more freedom of speech (see any Paris newsstand) than is actually practiced in this country. Their laws on extreme racist speech have not hurt that social and political speech at all, so far as I can see. Why are they freer in this sense than we are?

    We need to have these debates in this country.

  3. fogdog

    Why they are freer? Because they have a hard-earned, well deserved culture behind it and to worry for. What you have, is five centuries of naive little conflicts, backed up by two hotdogs and the classically uninformed, embarrassingly trivial american populist opinion appealing to some perversely misunderstood interpretation of democracy.

    Your opinion is further questioned in terms of establishment based on the demagogy iconised well by not distinguishing between racial intolerance, and cultural conflict responses, or , similarily, not being able to distinguish, indicating pure arrogant ignorance. Choose your favourite. We choose Europe, and no, my trivial friend, it does not mean I agree with Madame Bardot to the slightest extent.

    And when did you last read anything more historical material than the pre-ordered comic of your weekly delivery, claiming that France played a major role in holocausts, especially referring to the second world war, did you fail going to school, or is it all you managed to decode from the elementary school history book – given that you use such in the nominated institution.

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