This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of December, 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 publication: 17 December 2019
Media outlet: Causeur, far-right French magazine
Headline: “Ladj Ly has been in prison for complicity in murder attempt. A miserable past that he would love to forget...”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: The far-right magazine Causeur published an article about Ladj Ly, the director of France’s Oscar shortlisted film Les Misérables, claiming that in 2009 he was convicted of attempted murder. In the article, the crime is described as motivated by religious beliefs. The headline of one of the paragraphs is “When Ladj Ly was enforcing the Sharia law…” The reporter writes that Amad Ly, Ladj Ly’s friend, found out that his sister was having a relationship without being married. “She is not a virgin anymore, she is not married either. According to Muslim religion, this has a name: ‘fornication’ […] “As it is about the honour of a family, it is a transgression that has to be severely punished. Sharia law has to be applied”, the article states. According to the magazine, the film director, his friend, and another man kidnapped the woman’s partner, drove him to the woods and beat him until the man was able to run away.
Myth Debunked: The news story, presented by Causeur as a “scoop”, was partially false. The fact-checking service of the newspaper Libération, Checknews, investigated the case and discovered that the film director served a two-year prison term for complicity in a kidnapping case, not for attempted murder. Moreover, there were no religious motives in the crime. "Contrary to what some far-right media wrote, the sentence is not about a ‘murder attempt’. And it’s not either, from the articles that date back to the time that we were able to check, about a link with Muslim religion as motive of his action,” Libération stated. Causeur has since edited the headline, which now says ““Ladj Ly has been in prison for complicity in kidnapping. A miserable past that he would love to forget...”, but nothing else in the article has been changed. In fact, they use the findings of Libération to prove that their “scoop” is valid – an article published the following day was titled “Ladj Ly: Libération confirms information revealed by Causeur.” However, the text in both articles still reports that Ly had to appear in court for attempted kidnapping and murder. Valeurs Actuelles, a far-right magazine, picked up the news from Causeur and also reported that Ly was sentenced for attempted murder and insisted on the religious motives. Ly has announced he is going to sue Causeur and Valeurs Actualles for “defamation” and “racist slander” for their reporting on him. In a statement sent to Le Monde, Ly’s lawyers said that he was not responsible of any violence in the case they are mentioning, even less of complicity in attempted murder, and that he clearly did not want to “enforce the Sharia law”. Ladj Ly’s film "Les Misérables", which won an award at the Cannes Festival in 2019 and has been shortlisted for the Academy Awards, was inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris, and brings attention to the police brutality in Parisian suburbs such as Montfermeil. The movie has been very successful, but some far-right media have been very critical about the issues addressed by the film as well as about the director. Causeur’s article aims to undermine the credibility of the director and the message of his movie.