French prosecutors open an investigation into a torrent of anti-Semitic social media messages aimed at the runner-up in the latest Miss France competition.
April Benayoum, 21, who holds the title of Miss Provence and competed for the national crown on Saturday, got hate messages after she said at the event that her father is of Israeli origin.
The insults, one of which read “Hitler forgot about this one” and another “Don’t vote for a Jew,” drew instant condemnation from politicians and associations.
“I am deeply shocked by the flood of anti-Semitic insults against Miss Provence,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says. “We will not let this stand. Shame on the authors.”
Paris prosecutors say that they were investigating the messages for “racist insults” and “instigation of race hatred.”
The Miss France contest “is not an anti-Semitic competition,” says his deputy, Marlene Schiappa.
The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) said the messages had turned Twitter “into an anti-Semitic cesspool” and called on internet users to report the offending content with a view to launching a class action suit.
The contest organizers also condemn the attacks, as does the competition’s winner, Amandine Petit from Normandy in northwestern France, who calls the social media messages “inappropriate” and “extremely disappointing.”