A teacher in eastern France will go on trial next month, accused of seeking to incite racial hatred, after brandishing a sign at a protest against new COVID-19 restrictions that police have said was clearly antisemitic, prosecutors say.
Cassandre Fristot, 34, was seen at the protest on Saturday in the eastern city of Metz holding a sign denouncing President Emmanuel Macron’s enforcement of a health pass in France to encourage people to get vaccinated.
The sign contained the names of several prominent politicians, businessmen and intellectuals in France, most of them Jewish, and police said it “had a message that was manifestly antisemitic.”
Fristot, a former local councilor for the far-right National Rally (RN), was detained yesterday and her home was searched. Metz prosecutor Christian Mercuri says her trial will start on September 8. If convicted, she risks up to one year in prison and a 45,000 euro ($53,000) fine.
Cette pancarte est abjecte. L’antisémitisme est un délit, en aucun cas une opinion. De tels propos ne resteront pas impunis. J’ai demandé @prefet57 de faire un signalement au Parquet sur la base de l’article 40.
Les services de police sont mobilisés pour identifier leur auteur. pic.twitter.com/VDEoMp3W8c
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) August 8, 2021
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin yesterday shared the image of Fristot brandishing the sign on his Twitter account, describing it as “despicable,” and then announcing she was arrested.
“Antisemitism is a crime, not an opinion. Such words will not go unpunished,” he said.
About 237,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the COVID health pass that critics say encroaches on civil liberties. Macron has retorted that people are neglecting their duty as citizens if they fail to get vaccinated.