A French court has imposed an unusually stiff one-year prison sentence on an author who published an anti-Semitic article on his website.
Alain Soral, 60, is considered a leading ideologue of France’s far right and has made headlines for his extreme statements before. In the article, posted last March, he wrote that Jews are “manipulative, domineering and hateful,” and that “the battle between the Jewish people and the rest of humanity should bear the character of a total genocide.”
In the same article, he wrote of the prosecutor in a previous case against him, “I’ve never heard so many lies and so much dishonesty coming from a woman’s mouth – and I’ve known plenty of sluts in my life.”
The March article for which he was sentenced to prison was prompted by a court case in February over another post on his website. That post, which he put up during France’s 2017 presidential election, showed a digitally manipulated picture of then-candidate (and now president) Emmanuel Macron wearing what looked like a Nazi armband, but with a dollar sign in place of the swastika. Behind Macron there were American and Israeli flags, along with three Jews well-known in France – banker Jacob Rothschild, Jewish-American businessman Patrick Drahi and Jacques Attali, the first president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. According to the indictment for the February case, the post portrayed Macron as a marionette with the three Jews pulling his strings. Consequently, he was charged with inciting hatred of Jews; in response, he wrote his March essay.
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Soral has written 12 fiction and nonfiction books, as well as screenplays and hundreds of essays that have appeared in various media outlets. His sister is film star Agnes Soral, who was popular in France in the 1980s and 1990s.
Soral began his political life in the Communist Party, but eventually quit and formed his own party to represent what he termed “the nationalist left.” It was called Egalite et Reconciliation, which is also the name of his website.
In the early 2000s, he grew close to the Le Pen family and joined their right-wing National Front party, eventually becoming a member of its central committee. But according to French political pundits, he quit, or was ousted, because his anti-Semitism was too extreme.
He then hooked up with the anti-Semitic entertainer Dieudonne, creator of the infamous “quenelle,” an inverted Nazi salute. They ran together on an “anti-Zionist” ticket in the 2009 elections for the European Parliament, and while they didn’t get in, they remain good friends.
The French Union of Jewish Students, which filed the complaint against Soral over the March essay, welcomed the sentence imposed by the court in the Parisian suburb of Bobigny. “Justice has put a new stop to this little propagandist of hatred,” it tweeted. Ilana Soskin, a lawyer for the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, also praised the verdict.
It’s very rare for French prosecutors to seek stiff sentences for anti-Semitic statements, and it’s equally rare for courts to impose them. The usual sentence for such an offense is a fine, or sometimes a suspended sentence. Even on the rare occasions when prison sentences are imposed, they are extremely short, and usually disappear during the appeals process, so no time is actually served.
But this time, the prosecution sought a one-year prison term, and the court agreed.