Actress Brigitte Bardot on trial in France for inciting racial hatred

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Brigette Bardot in the 1960s

French actress and general rabble-rouser Brigitte Bardot, 73, is on trial this week for inciting racial hatred in France. And this is not the first time Bardot has been on trial – since 1997, she’s been fined four times for breaking France’s strict antiracism laws. Bardot isn’t one of those silly little Hollywood types that gets her law breaking urges out of the way with a common DUI. Instead she writes angry letters about Muslims – sometimes using an animal-rights activist angle, and sometimes railing against them just because.

France (and much of the countries in Europe) has very strict antiracism laws. It is against the law to incite racial or religious discrimination or hatred of any sort. Bardot’s current trial came about after she wrote a letter in 2004 to current president (then Interior Minister) Nicolas Sarkozy in which she railed against the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Kabir. The festival traditionally includes the slaughtering of a sheep.

In the letter, which was later published in the quarterly journal belonging to Bardot’s eponymous animal-welfare foundation, the …And God Created Woman star attributed France’s perceived decline to its growing Muslim population. “I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts,” Bardot wrote. The activist group Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples, or MRAP, filed suit against her last year.

The former screen siren has been fined four times since 1997 for violating France’s strict antiracism laws, which prohibit the incitement of religious or racial hatred and discrimination. Bardot’s first conviction came for a letter published in the newspaper El Figaro in which she complained about a large influx of Muslims contributing to “foreign overpopulation.”

[From E!]

The assistant prosecutor of Bardot’s case noted that she was getting pretty tired of dealing with her. She asked the judge for a fine of about $24,000 and a suspended two-month prison sentence. Something tells me that won’t make Brigitte Bardot keep her thoughts to herself. It’s hard to tell if her issue is just over the animals, or about Muslims in general. From the brief mention of her first letter, it seems that she has some issues with both.

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Brigette Bardot in 1990

 

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42 Responses to “Actress Brigitte Bardot on trial in France for inciting racial hatred”

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  1. Bellatrix says:

    JayBird,

    Bardot is known for her racist (and mostly anti-muslim) thoughts and sayings these last few years.
    The animal cause is just a part of it.

    Bardot has been married since 1992 to Bernard d’Ormale, a very close friend of Jean-Marie Le PEn, the french politician leader of the Front National Party (which is the extreme right wing party, often in court for racist speaches, holocaust denial, etc.).

    This isn’t just about slaughtering sheep.

  2. Scott F. says:

    All speech should be protected, so long as it doesn’t directly incite violence. The idea that anyone in a western democracy might be jailed for speaking their mind is far more sickening to me than anything this woman has said.

  3. Bodhi says:

    Wow. Seems like she is using the animal rights issue to justify her anti-Muslim retoric.

    I wonder if she opposes other religions that use animal scrafice as part of their rites…

    Thanks for the info Bellatrix.

    Oh, & didn’t LL compare herself to BB awhile back? :eyeroll:

  4. Bodhi says:

    Bellatrix- Are these anti-racism laws related to the riots a few years back?

  5. headache says:

    Xenophobia in France? You don’t say.

  6. ash says:

    Hmm…wonder what her thoughts are on the slaughtering of turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

  7. Bellatrix says:

    Bodhi,

    The anti-racism laws in France are older than the recent riots. Most European countries have had strong laws against racism since many, many years now…
    The latest complaints against Bardot were registered (once again) by several national antiracism organisations.

    One of her earlier trials concerned a book she released just a few years back in which she compared the 9/11 terrorists to muslims in general. In that book (Un Cri dans le Silence), she also said that the muslim people were invaders. Etc.
    During that trial, she denied being a racist and simply -ahem, ahem- stated that France was suffering from the mixed race and that her country could only mix well with other countries that had latin-based languages and the same religious traditions.

    As far as I’m concerned, her being accused and proven guilty of conducing to racial hate is indisputable.
    There are actually to my knowledge no supporters of Bardot’s “cause”.

  8. geronimo says:

    Bardot has been fairly fanatical on the animal front for years now and fanatics are mostly incapable of having an objective or logical perspective on anything, least of all the things they are most fanatical about.

  9. Laiconna says:

    I think so many people have gotten fed up with the Muslim population because they equate them all with Bin Laden. It’s scary when you believe that a religion advocates violence against anyone that believes differently than they do. The muslims deny others the freedom that they enjoy in other countries. They shouldn’t have any more freedom of religion than they allow in their country. Why should they be free to practice their religion when they do not allow others religious freedom?

  10. Laiconna says:

    My grammar was not very good but I think I got my point across. I don’t hate muslims. I have it when people are allowed to enjoy freedoms that they deny others.

  11. urmybff says:

    freedom of speech, its whatever, but she should have reviewed what she was saying and think of the response it would have. got to take all of it into perspective.

  12. hairball says:

    Scott F, I agree with you totally. I cannot believe a person would not be allowed to speak her opinion?? WOW. The magazines don’t have to publish it, people don’t have to read it. Unbelievable, and yes, very sickening that someone could face massive fines and jail time for just speaking their mind.

    • Hannah says:

      Speaking their minds that could lead to drastic actions. People should respect other races and or religion.
      It’s funny that Europeans or white North Americans complain about other religions and races when they were the ones actively engaging in slavery. Look at the effects of slavery on the people of today

  13. Gracie says:

    The only speech that needs protection is the speech which offends. If I say ‘kittens are cute’ who would really try to stop me?

    The freedom to voice one’s opinions is truly a basic human right.

    Poor Voltaire – he must be spinning in his grave.

    I thank God that the US has the 1st Amendment putting restraints on our gov’s abilities to smother speech.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This has nothing to do with the article:

    God she has turned into one ugly broad. Cant believe she used to be goodlooking. I know she’s old and i wanna give her a break but her face has more lines in it than a freeway.

    I feel better making that comment since she’s clearly being a racist

  15. headache says:

    You really have to take into consideration the historical reasoning behind these laws. On the European continent in particular, speeches softened people for the persecution and extermination of millions of people based solely on ethnicity, religion, and/or lifestyle. These laws, as offensive as they are to us first amendmenters, are an attempt to keep such widespread evil from happening again.

    If these are Bardot’s thoughts and words, she is welcome to it but I think she crosses a line when she has these words published or delivers a speech with this tirade.

    Of course, if she honestly feels these ridiculous statements belong in the public eye than her happy ass should think about moving to a country where printing them isn’t illegal.

    I don’t care who you are. You follow the laws of the country in which you live, or you move to one where what you want to do is allowed.

  16. Scott F. says:

    Gotta say, I know the historical reasons, and it’s still bullshit. Banning speech doesn’t accomplish anything, it simply forces groups to go underground where they become far more dangerous.

    Almost every year the KKK marches through downtown Indianapolis, and every year the counter-protesters outnumber them 10-1. They spout their bullshit, people laugh or yell at them, then they go home. No one gets hurt on either side, no one gets inspired to kill a bunch of jews or blacks – people just go about their lives. It also serves the valuable purpose of letting us know exactly who these jackasses are, because they’re parading right past the capitol.

    If the argument is that these laws are supposed to keep one group from being at another’s throat, how do you explain the fact they have just as many riots (if not more so) than we have in the states? Hell, we haven’t had a really bad race riot since Rodney King.

    Freedoms aren’t free, and sometimes the cost of being free is having to be offended by some idiot – but if one man has his voice silenced so as not to offend another, then neither is free.

  17. Francaise says:

    To the person who said she doesn’t look that great because she has lots of wrinkles–she is 73! Does everyone need plastic surgery? I think she looks fine for her age.
    Now, to the problem. True, Bardot is anti-Islamic. Should she be punished for expressing her opinion? Hmmm…
    Even if you don’t agree with her, she should have a right to say what is on her mind. We have a right to disagree. We have a right not to listen. We should also have the right to listen and agree. Free societies don’t have thought police.
    Now,
    If you lived in France, or elsewhere in Europe, you might understand her sentiments. There is an extremely large Muslim population in France that does NOT respect French principles of religious/secular freedom, the separation of church and state, etc. They do not wish to integrate.
    If I come to your country, I MUST respect your laws and customs. I should not be able to intimidate you; force you to change laws/customs to accomodate me; or enforce my religiously-inspired ideas on “proper behaviour” on the females of my religious/ethnic group through violence (honour killings, “smileys”, rapes, etc., for girls who aren’t being “good muslims”…).
    When people in countries that believe heavily in equality, liberality, multi-culturalism (France, the Netherlands, Denmark, etc…) suddenly start voting for anti-immigrant right-wing parties, you should understand that something is up.
    And then you have the stupid people who have forgotten how to critically think, or who are working for the immigrant lobby, that cry “racism” when a country like the Netherlands won’t let people become citizens unless they learn Dutch. Is it really so bad to expect people to adapt to your country, respect your country, and integrate into your country? Is it bad to criticize a group that believes FGM is a cultural/religious right or that honour killings are A-OK and necessary to preserve some immigrant’s “honour”? [and yes, i am aware that not all Muslims practice this. i am just making a point that it is totally acceptable to deem another group's customs unacceptable if those practices go against the principles of the host country]
    If you don’t want to integrate, then go live in your own country, or one with similar values.

  18. Bodhi says:

    Oh, ok. Thanks Bellatrix Geronimo

  19. anon says:

    Francaise, I agree with you. Americans don’t really know what it’s like, how agressive the Muslims can get, how disdainful of the country that’s bending over backwards for them.

  20. I choose me says:

    You make some interesting points Francaise, makes me think.

    “If I come to your country, I MUST respect your laws and customs. I should not be able to intimidate you; force you to change laws/customs to accomodate me; or enforce my religiously-inspired ideas on “proper behaviour”

    I esp. agree with the above portion of your comments. I do not like racists but I’m all for free speech.

  21. headache says:

    There is another aspect that Francaise is leaving out. Yes, the muslims in France have a different religion and different lifestyle but it is also very difficult for them to integrate into French society. It’s not as easy as it is in America to simply show up and get a job.

    There were riots in France not because Muslims hate France but because they often face discrimination. Finding and keeping a job is not easy for anyone starting out in France but it is ten times more difficult if you are obviously muslim.

    Not to mention there are still wounds from the old French colonial history.

    I’m not saying that the riots are right, or that France’s stance on free speech is right especially since that ideal was born in France and embraced by us. What I am trying to say is that there is more at work here, more factors to consider than just Oh the muslims don’t want to integrate or Bardot should be able to say what she wants.

    Until France comes to terms with the history behind the xenophobia, people are going to be easily influenced by what Bardot and others like her have to say. I think it is easier for government to censor speech than it is to deal with why people have these thoughts and feelings and what can be done to change their perceptions. Unfortunately, legislation cannot keep anyone from feeling that others are inferior to themselves. It only buries the feelings deeper where they fester and eventually explode whether in the form of riots or racism.

  22. xiaoecho says:

    Francaise….what are ‘smileys’?

  23. Moogles says:

    “Almost every year the KKK marches through downtown Indianapolis, and every year the counter-protesters outnumber them 10-1. They spout their bullshit, people laugh or yell at them, then they go home.”
    I understand that Americans value their free speech. Do not make the mistake of thinking that speech isn’t dangerous, however– many people, in defending free speech, paint hateful speech and propaganda as harmless, but it’s not. For instance, there was a time in America when the KKK was down to less than a hundred members and on the verge of extinction. Then the movie “Birth of a Nation” came out. It was basically a propaganda movie extolling the noble vitues of the Klan and portrayed black people as savage rape-monkeys. Membership of the KKK exploded in the following years. That is what hateful speech can accomplish. Now I still respect people who want to protect free speech at all costs, I just think they need to acknowledge that free speech can in fact incite people to violence. The laws in Europe exist because hateful speech has historically incited violence and crime (The Holocaust, for instance– Mein Kampf played a big role in it, and later inspired Pol Pot in his purges of ethnic minorities in Cambodia). You have to choose what you want– free speech AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, or putting hateful old biddies on trial for being twatfaces. Personally, as an American, I understand where Europeans are coming from. They’ve decided not to tolerate hate speech. They’ve decided the rights of minorities to be safe are more important than the rights of white people to say hateful things.

  24. hairball says:

    Scott F, I totally want to have sex with you now!

  25. Scott F. says:

    “They’ve decided the rights of minorities to be safe are more important than the rights of white people to say hateful things.”

    Ahhh, I get it now, thanks for taking the time to explain it to me. Because only white people are racist right? I suppose the Black Panthers are just a social club?

    That’s a total cop-out, and paints a vivid picture of the kind of mentality that led to these ridiculous laws in Europe. It’s time these morons took responsibility for their actions, and stopped hiding behind other people.

    You know how many Jews Mein Kampf killed? Not a single fucking one, that’s how many (baring a paper cut that may have gotten infected that I know nothing about). PEOPLE killed those Jews. I find the attitude that propaganda or ‘hate speech’ causes violence to be deplorable, because you’re letting the sick son of a bitch who does the crime off the hook. You’re assuming that had they never come in contact with that stimuli, that he wouldn’t have been a bigoted asshole anyways.

    How many German officers claimed they were ‘just following orders’, or that they’d been duped by the Nazi’s propaganda? It’s no excuse. That’s like claiming you should get off on a crime because you didn’t know what you were doing was against the law – being an easily led dumbass is not an acceptable defense.

    It’s honestly scary to me how many people are all on board the Thought Police train, riding full steam ahead.

    “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

  26. Bellatrix says:

    I am French too, as I presume Française is but my opinion is completely different from the one she expressed and most have here.

    Firstly, Bardot is NOT being silenced by the law system. Proof is the fact that this is her fourth or even fifth trial for the same accusations.
    She is being given a fine and even prison for inciting racial hatred.
    Freedom of speech remains but you have to live up to the consequences of your words and be responsible for them.

    Secondly, I live in Marseille in the South of France, probably the most multi-cultural city in France and France’s second biggest after Paris.
    I have no problems whatsoever with the (rather important) muslim society. I live in a neighbourhood with muslim people, Jews and Christians. And I’m very proud to say that many things are going great. I don’t need to share holidays, beliefs or traditions to know that I can live with other people. Social pacts do happen. And most of the time, very naturally.

    Beyond politics and ways of looking at society, I can only express how shocking it is to read several things that were mentioned in the above comments.
    Minorities are being suppressed. It’s a fact.
    But what bothers the most is when you say someone’s opinion (which is just an opinion, thus not the truth nor the facts) is being suppressed when it isn’t. Bardot’s right to speak is still protected. The FN party (extreme right) still exists. The only thing is, when you cross borders and accuse people (individuals or an entire people such as it is the case with Bardot regarding muslims), the law system is there to remind us all that not all phrases and sayings are equal in value and in truth.
    Bardot’s words make a lot of ink flow in the newspapers. There is no censure… It’s more the opposite : her trial makes the big media discuss these racial issues again. At the moment, the big discussion topic among my friends and family is the question of “why”. Why she thinks something like that. Why the FN party has suffered a major lack of votes at the last elections (which I’m very happy with but it still was a big surprise).

    It’s no censure at all. Her books aren’t being burned in secret and her trial isn’t kept away from television and newspapers. On the contrary.

  27. wif says:

    But Bellatrix, she’s able to accept her fines and punishment because of her privileged position. Wouldn’t someone, who is not in a position of money and power, never be able to express their thoughts due to fear?

  28. contessa says:

    I agree with Scott F. It is absurd to think that true freedom of thought and speech is illegal in a so called free country.

    When we see Muslims in variuous nations rioting and burning images and busts of various people they hate (our President, PM Blair, etc)every other second over anything from a cartoon to someone hurt their feelings or their pride…., I think Bardot writing her thoughts is just an example of how others whould express their feelings and thoughts. Were all those rioters charged? Or would that have been “racist”? This is nauseating.

  29. contessa says:

    *Should* express their feelings and thoughts…..

    PS: I cannot believe there is actual support here for thought police.
    Because she is “white”? Shame on her.
    If she were not rich enough to pay the fines she would actually be in prison. Think of how many people are probably in prison for speaking their thoughts and opinions and we do not know about it because they are not an old rich movie star. Frankly, this scares me!

  30. apple says:

    It is one thing to be against killing animals for food in general, for kinder slaughter or to be against eating meat, but railing against halal and/or kosher procedure is an old canard of the racist far right in France and elsewhere.

    And stretching something like eating halah (and I assume the same the same is extended to kosher) slaughter to saying THEY “are destroying OUR country” is indeed hateful, and not just an innocuous animal rights statement that deserves protection.

  31. Bellatrix says:

    To those wondering about the fines : she gets those fines not for just “speaking her opinions” but also because she published them in a book which she gained money from and she published them officially on the website of her animal organization.

    The further your thoughts reach people and the fact that you’ve won money out of it does play a huge part in how much money she needs to pay.
    The fact she continues to do so and break the law also makes the fines heavier and heavier.

  32. headache says:

    So, Bellatrix, if I understand you correctly, if she said it on a street corner to one of her friends, she probably wouldn’t have been prosecuted at all?

  33. Bellatrix says:

    headache,

    If it wasn’t a public announcement or didn’t reach an audience outside the private sphere, no, there would not have been a prosecution.

    She went overboard regarding the law by speaking those words in a public way.
    You are, of course, allowed to speak your mind if you’re not addressing a large audience.
    She could only have been sued (by an individual though, not organisations) if she had racially insulted someone in private.

    Inciting to racial hatred is a public act.

    Hope this helped.

  34. contessa says:

    you are not free as an artist to write your opinions, ideas or feelings in France? I could understand someone trying to sue her maybe, but being criminally charged is ridiculous to say the least.
    In a public way could mean many things. Someone’s own artistic expression is not there to be bought and read mandatorily. There are plenty of books, articles, etc that I choose not to read. I do not see how you keep trying to justify this muzzling.

  35. Scott F. says:

    It all sounds great when all you’re silencing is ‘bigots’. The problem lies 10 years down the road, when someone decides to start silencing the speech of their political opponents.

    Then you’ll cry foul, but it’s too late, because you’ve now armed them with the most dangerous weapon in a government’s arsenal – precedent.

  36. Barry Duke says:

    I am concerned that in many of the posts here it is accepted that Bardot was guilty of racism, when she is, in truth, guilty only of maligning religion – in this case, Islam and a particular aspect of its many barbaric practices. It is irrational and totally unacceptable to equate a legitimate loathing of religion with racism.

    See my post at http://www.freethinker.co.uk/2008/06/03/dislike-of-religion-is-not-racism/

  37. heidi says:

    Hurray for you Brigitte these Muslims are like cockroachs they spread and then they take over your country. Watch out America it can happen here. They marry wife after wife and then they expect the system to feed them. They spread there religion as fast as they can imagine. If you ask me they are discriminating on the French people. America is so stupid as and the Muslims know it. They burn our flag and hate us but continue to come over and spread there Muslim ways. Watch out America they will be doing the same thing here as they do in England and France. Do you think they have any heart for the people in 911 if they had a heart they would not be wanting to put a Mosques down the street. They would out of respect never do that but no, they don’t have any respect for America or it’s people. This is not a hate letter it’s a truth letter.

  38. Pirya Daskunti says:

    She didn’t even say anything racist or against religion! I guess that would be the same as speaking out against Nazis and going to jail for it. Good thing I don’t live in France I live in a non-Muslim country with free speech so I can say France is so stupid for putting up such a law that makes it illegal to express concern over Muslims. It’s ok for Muslims to say ‘Death to everyone who insults Allah’ but a French lady can’t say she is tired of them imposing their death culture onto France? That is really scary that Europe and UK are giving in to Muslim radicals. Look Up Brigitte Gabriel who is an ex-Muslim Lebanese warning about extremist Muslim about their plan to impose their barbaric Sharia Law onto every country they can. If you allow such terrible and DANGEROUS LAWS bad things will happen.

  39. keith says:

    she can say anything she wants. viva maria

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  41. Barb Tunn says:

    I agree with the person for 29th Septemeber 2010 in some ways. The same can go for Jews.

    I’m not much of a fan of BB, but, I do admire her for her animal rights. I wonder what Cancer UK feel about her considering they experement on animals.