The front cover of the latest issue of Paris Match, a leading news and entertainment weekly, used a photo of Hervé Lalin, known as “Hervé Ryssen”, to represent the gilets jaunes protests sweeping across France. A self-described ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semite’, Ryssens is a convicted criminal and member of National Republican Movement – an extreme-right party that split from Marine Le Pen’s National Front in 1999. Shockingly, Paris Match does not identify him as such.
The International League against Racism and Antisemitism (LICRA), GTTO partner in France, explains that by putting such a well-known hate figure on their front-page without explicitly calling out his views makes it seem like Paris Match endorse his racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and heterosexist agenda. In addition, Paris Match’s front cover is an insult to gilets jaunes protesters, most of whom do not subscribe to hateful extreme-right ideology. LICRA complained to Paris Match on Twitter, writing – “anti-Semites and denialists enjoy so much thanks to the visibility your magazine provided them.”
The editor-in-chief of the magazine, replied (also on Twitter) that he is surprised that his team did not recognise Ryssen, but added that “this accidental photo underlines nonetheless the infiltration of the yellow vest movement by extremists including the ultra-right. That is why this person is on the cover of our magazine.” In contrast, the magazine’s Journalists’ Association apologised for the mistake, “which does not reflect at all the values of Paris Match.” LICRA noticed that this was the first tweet by the Journalists’ Association. They created a Twitter account specifically to respond to this complaint. Significantly, French media outlets, such as Le Monde and L’Express, expressed solidarity with LICRA’s complaint.