French far-right weekly barred from Twitter over anti-Semitism

Activists celebrate victory over hate speech; only last week Rivarol magazine tweeted that hatred for Jews was understandable and deserved to increase further

Jerome Bourbon, editor of far-right French magazine Rivarol (YouTube screenshot)
Jerome Bourbon, editor of far-right French magazine Rivarol (YouTube screenshot)

PARIS — A French far-right magazine had its Twitter account suspended Monday, French officials said, after multiple complaints of hate speech including anti-Semitic abuse.

Rivarol’s Twitter account “called for racial hatred and sympathized with crimes against humanity”, a spokesman for the government’s racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination body (DILCRAH) said, adding it had repeatedly reported the account to the social media platform.

France, home to the biggest Jewish community in Europe, has seen a sharp rise in anti-Jewish offences reported to police — up 74 percent last year.

A spate of anti-Semitic vandalism and graffiti in and around Paris in recent weeks has caused fresh alarm and sparked widespread condemnation.

Frederic Potier from DILCRAH welcomed the move by Twitter, saying it was thanks to a push “against online hate speech.”

In a tweet on February 13 that has now been removed, the weekly magazine wrote: “When I was a child I didn’t understand why Jews were detested by all people, all nations throughout history. Today I don’t even ask the question anymore. Actually I do, I wonder why they aren’t (detested) more.”

Sacha Ghozlan, head of the French Union of Jewish Students, told AFP: “It’s an important victory and a brake on this anti-Semitic rag that has been spreading hatred of Jews for years.”

“However, there is still a lot of work to be done on Twitter,” he said, adding that online abuse of Jews has long gone unpunished.

He said he suspected that Rivarol’s editor Jerome Bourbon — whose own Twitter account was already suspended — was personally behind the magazine’s tweets.

Several rallies against anti-Semitism are planned across France on Tuesday.

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