It took ten days for a poltroon French government to step up and defend the rights of a sixteen-year-old girl faced with death threats for exercising her freedom of speech.
A homosexual who dislikes religion. A Minister of Justice who forgets there are no blasphemy laws in France. Muslim leaders who justify death threats. And a Minister of the Interior who is trying to balance French laws with a rising “Islamic identity” threatening French unity.
Young, Outspoken, Courageous
It’s the story of a sixteen-year-old lesbian who told a Muslim boy trying to hit up on her what she thinks of his religion and of a young French Muslim population ready to kill someone who criticizes their religion.
Mila uses Instagram to chat, post videos and live her homosexuality. This is what she did on January 18 when the discussion focused on religion. Mila said: “I reject all religions… I’m not a racist because you can’t be a racist against a religion.”
She brushed off an attempted flirt by a young Muslim adolescent who then called her an Islamophobe and a racist. She was called a “dirty dyke,” “a dirty white,” “a whore” and other names. Mila responded sharply.
“I hate religion,” she said. “The Quran is nothing but full of hate, Islam is shit… I said what I think. You aren’t going to make me regret it. There are people who are going to get excited; I clearly don’t give a damn. I say what I want and what I think. Your religion is shit. I put my finger in the ass hole of your God. Thank you and good bye.”
The exchange was posted on line and shared many times.
The young woman has received thousands of death threats and insults on line from young Muslims. Her address and the name of her high school were posted on line. The authorities have removed her from the school, put her under police protection and restricted her to her home.
The Courts Go After Mila
The matter grew to such national attention that the courts opened an investigation on Mila for “incitement to hate towards a group of people because of their membership of a race or a specific religion,” which is a crime in France punishable by a year in prison and a €45,000 fine. Fortunately, the courts ruled on January 30 that Mila had only expressed an opinion towards religion and did not incite to hate.
That ruling was a further slap in the face for Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, a former university professor of law, who said on Europe 1 radio January 29 that: “Insulting a religion, is obviously an attack on the freedom of conscience. It is very serious…” The Minister needed to be reminded that blasphemy is not illegal in France.
It didn’t take long for politicians, jurists and normal citizens to react angrily, forcing the Minister later that same day to back-track saying she never said there were blasphemy laws in France which is exactly what she had said. Her statement was seen as an encouragement to young Muslims to threaten violence against those who criticize their religion. Public outrage at Belloubet grew and the Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, was forced to declare before the Senate on that same day:
“There does not exist in this country…and will never exist under the authority of this government the offense of blasphemy. Freedom of speech in this country allows each person to criticize religion. The young Mila can perfectly well criticize…and it is unacceptable, unbearable even, that some, in the name of the institution they represent, could allow people to think that this is forbidden.”
The Socialist Party senator, Laurence Rossignol, an outspoken critic of the Islamization of French suburbs, said: “In France it is forbidden to insult followers of a religion but you can insult a religion, its figures, its symbols.”
Minister of Justice Belloubet ignored calls to step down, bit the bullet, and has been keeping a low profile.
Muslim Leaders Fail to Condemn Threats
A leader of the French Council for the Islamic Faith (CFCM), a government recognized institution, encouraged the hate and death threats when he said Mila “reaped what she sowed.” Abdallah Zerkri added that: “she was asking for it, now she has to accept it. What she said, the insults she said, I cannot accept them.”
Zerkri received the support of the president of the CFCM, Mohammed Moussaoui, although he said he regretted the expression “she was asking for it,” but insisted on “the responsibility of the young girl and the inappropriate things she said.”
France was coming apart at its Muslim seams. Marlène Schiappa, who is State Secretary in charge of equality and the fight against discrimination, called Zerkri’s statement “criminal.” The Muslim leader’s position forced the Interior Minister, Castaner, to once again insist death threats and personal insults are “unacceptable” but he added that: “we must protect all religions and refuse calls to hate in the name of a religion.” Castaner made it clear he would fight against “communitarianism,” a reference to creating “Muslim enclaves” which escape French control, also known as “no-go zones,” and “Islamism” in the country.
Mila told the right wing web site Bellica on January 21that: “Contrary to them, I didn’t insult, threaten or call for violence against anybody. What I did is blasphemy. It’s a general criticism of religions and nothing more.” She said she was getting 200 messages of pure hate every minute.