|July 17th, 2014||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2003
Blog Entries: 34
Anne-Sophie Leclere (France)
Member of French National Front jailed after she compared country's black justice minister to a monkey on Facebook
- Anne-Sophie Leclere has been jailed for nine months and fined almost £30k
- The mother-of-three was due to be a candidate in local elections this year
- The National Front has called her sentence 'revolting' and 'excessive'
A female member of France’s far-right National Front party has been sent to prison for nine months for comparing the country’s black justice minister to a monkey on Facebook.
Anne-Sophie Leclere, a 34-year-old mother of three who was due to be a candidate in local elections this year, must also pay a fine equivalent to almost £30,000, and has been banned from seeking office for five years.
Her party immediately condemned a sentence which it believes is among the harshest ever handed down over a social media posting.
Ms Leclere was standing in Rethel, in the Ardennes region of eastern France, but it was a court in the overseas territory of Cayenne, French Guiana, which found her guilty.
The court heard how Ms Leclere published a picture of a baby monkey, with the caption ‘At 18 months’.
Next to it was a picture of justice minister Christiane Taubira, 62, above the word: ‘Now’.
During a TV documentary, Ms Leclere defended her post, insisting Ms Taubira was ‘a savage’, who was ruining France with her Socialist policies.
Ms Leclere said of Ms Taubira, who was born in French Guiana: ‘Honestly, she’s a wild animal, coming on TV with that devil’s smile. I’d prefer to see her swinging from a tree than in government.’
Ms Leclere, who was reported to the police by an anti-racism group in French Guiana, added: ‘I have friends who are black.’
Following the court judgement, she insisted ‘I did not make racist remarks even though my comments on television were clumsy.
The photo was posted on my Facebook page and I took it off a few days later. I was not the creator of this photograph. I have received several messages of support,’ she added.
A National Front spokesman said the sentence was ‘revolting’ and ‘excessive’, and would appeal.
He said: ‘This must be the one of the harshest sentences handed out in long time for freedom of speech.'
The National Front is currently riding high in opinion polls in France, having won 25 per cent of the popular vote in European elections in May with its anti-immigration, anti-EU agenda.
Its leader Marine Le Pen has been trying to soften its xenophobic image by broadening the party’s appeal, and Ms Leclere was one of a number of women candidates selected to do this.
Ms Taubira has suffered racist insults in France in the past, including having people wave bananas at her.