Hate Speech Trial Opens For French Presidential Hopeful Zemmour Over ‘Rapist’ Migrants Comments

French essayist and political journalist Eric Zemmour speaks to journalists after a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (not pictured) at the premier's office building, the Carmelita Kolostor (monastery) in Budapest on September 24, 2021. - Zemmour is a perticipant of 4th Budapest Demographic Summit, a platform for decision-makers, …
GERGELY BESENYEI/AFP via Getty Images

The hate speech trial for French conservative writer and television commentator Eric Zemmour, a presidential hopeful, began on Wednesday, over comments made by the writer last year regarding minor migrants.

The French writer’s trial began at the criminal court of Paris this week, although Zemmour himself declined to appear in court in person, choosing to be represented by his lawyers instead.

“He will not be present, in order to prevent the judicial precinct from turning into a continuous news TV studio,” lawyer Olivier Pardo explained. Despite this, a number of young supporters of Zemmour, nicknamed “Generation Z” planned a demonstration in front of the court, Le Figaro reports.

The trial revolves around comments made by Zemmour in September of last year in which he spoke on the television programme Face à l’info on broadcaster CNews regarding illegal minor migrants.

“They have nothing to do here, they are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are, they must be sent back and they must not even come,” Zemmour stated.

Around 30 groups, including anti-hate groups such as SOS Racisme, have also come into the case as civil parties, which initially delayed the case, as it was originally scheduled to see a trial in September of this year.

In September it was speculated that the delay in the trial could have been pushed back to sometime in the new year, possibly during the first round of the French presidential election.

The lawyers for Zemmour have claimed that his words were just a different way of speaking on a subject many French politicians have expressed concern with, the growing criminality of minor migrants in various parts of France.

Earlier this year in May, French Senator Henri Leroy commented on the trend of minor migrant crime saying, “Just look at the panorama of delinquency. There is a worrying increase which seems exponential. The number of minor migrants was 30,000 in 2015 and 60,000 in 2018, and the associated problems are increasing at the same rate.”

“In Bordeaux, 40 per cent of delinquency is attributable to them, and the proportion was 24 per cent two years ago. The problem grows and threatens to infiltrate all sections of delinquency, trafficking, banditry… We need to stop this bleeding,” Leroy added.

If found guilty the trial could see Mr Zemmour fined up to 45,000 euros (£37,741/$50,930) and he could potentially be facing a year in prison. Zemmour has previously been convicted of hate speech offences multiple times in the past but has shrugged off the cases.

In polling, Zemmour remains the second most popular prospective French presidential candidate behind current president Emmanuel Macron and slightly ahead of populist National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen.

However, polling released this week indicated that Le Pen may be closing the gap on Zemmour, putting the candidates within a one to two per cent margin.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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