This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of September, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of broadcasting: 28 September 2019
Media Outlet: LCI (La Chaîne Info) is a French free-to-air news channel
Author: Eric Zemmour
Description of the anti-Muslim content: During his opening speech at the “Convention of the Right”, the far-right commentator Eric Zemmour violently attacked Muslims as “migrant colonisers” and compared Islam to Nazism. The speech was broadcast in its entirety by LCI thereby spreading anti-Muslim invectives to millions of viewers. The political meeting was organised by the far-right magazine “L’incorrect” and the neo-fascist association “Cercle Audace” and the conservative young political movement “Racines d’Avenir”. It was used to launch the political return of Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine Le Pen, who is the current President of the political party National Rally (previously named National Front). Zemmour said that “the issues aggravated by immigration are exacerbated by Islam”. He also referred to Islamic garments as symbols of military occupation: “In the streets, veiled women and men in djellabah are a form of propaganda […], an Islamisation of the streets, like uniforms of an occupying army reminding to the losers their submission. Instead of the past triptych “immigration, integration, assimilation” there is “invasion, colonization, occupation”. To compound the parallel to Nazism, the French commentator quoted some (unspecified) authors who, in the 1930s, compared the then emerging Nazism to Islam saying that “no one criticised them for stigmatizing Islam. “At a push”, Zemmour continued, “many thought that they were exaggerating slightly, and some said ‘sure, Nazism is sometimes strict and intolerant, but comparing it to Islam is way too much”.
Myth debunked: Eric Zemmour is a well-known Islamophobic commentator in France. Earlier this month, he was sentenced by a French court for incitement to religious hatred against Muslims. By broadcasting his speech in full on national television, the broadcasting company LCI, the second largest in terms of audience in France, not only spread anti-Muslim hatred but also legitimised it this point of view as valid And worth the air time. Several hundreds of viewers submitted complaints to the CSA (the French Audiovisual Council) against LCI for giving a platform to racist ideas. LCI issued a press release only partially admitting the mistake: “In hindsight, a speech without contradiction is not in line with LCI’s usual format. LCI’s format is a long debate with opposite and contradictory points of views. Yesterday, there was a contradiction and deconstruction of Eric Zemmour speech, but it came after. Broadcasting the speech by itself is not the appropriate format of our channel”. A reaction came from different journalists’ associations: the LCI journalists’ association published a statement dissociating with directors’ decision, and reporters at Le Figaro (newspaper where Zemmour is a columnist) sent a letter to their editors-in-chief saying “the journalists of Le Figaro, in their great majority, do not want to be associated to these provocations. The SOJ asks urgently the editors to stop this ambiguous situation”. On a legal front, the public prosecutor's office in Paris opened an investigation on racial public insults and incitement to racial hatred. Depicting Muslims as an army of colonizers, Zemmour incites hatred and discrimination against the Muslim community in France. He strategically reverses the power dynamic between a religious minority that is systematically discriminated against and a majority that rule the country, between a (former) colonial empire and its (former) colonies.
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