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Blasphemy 'is no crime': Macron defends French girl's anti-Islam row

Macron said that 16-year-old Mila was owed protection by the state [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 February, 2020

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French President Emmanuel Macron defended the French teenager who broadcasted an expletive-laden Instagram rant against Islam.
French President Emmanuel Macron has defended a French teenager who received death threats after an expletive-laden Instagram rant against Islam, saying blasphemy is "no crime".

Macron stressed that the right to blaspheme was enshrined in the constitution, adding that the teenager needs to be "protected", in comments published on Wednesday.

The case of 16-year-old Mila - who has received a slew of death threats for calling Islam "a sh*tty religion" - has revived debate in France about freedom of speech and again highlighted divisions in the country.

The furore prompted Mila's family to be put under police protection and meant she could no longer attend her school in southeast France. 

"We have forgotten that Mila is an adolescent," Macron told the Dauphine Libere regional newspaper. 

"We owe her protection at school, in her daily life and when she moves around. The state has assumed its responsibilities."

The government announced earlier this month that a solution had been found to allow Mila to continue her schooling, without giving details.

Macron added that children needed to be better protected against "new forms of hate and harassment online".

And he said: "The law is clear. We have the right to blaspheme, to criticise and to caricature religions."

Mila, who is from near Lyon, commented on Islam's stance on homosexuality in a live Instagram broadcast.

A Muslim commentator responded by calling her a "dirty lesbian", The Guardian reported, after which Mila posted her now-infamous video outburst against Islam.

The diatribe led to death threats and Mila's details, including where she attended school, were posted online by social media users.

The public prosecutor is investigation "death threats, threats to commit a crime and harassment" against her attackers, the Guardian reported. An inquiry has alos been opened into whether Mila "provoked religious hatred", an offence under French law.

"This girl knows exactly what she has done … they who sow, reap," Abdallah Zekri, general delegate of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said on French radio.

Shortly afterwards the new head of the CHCM Mohammed Moussaoui said "we have to accept all the debates and refuse all violence," adding that no comments justified death threats.

Mila has said she did not the video in an appearance on French television, but also apologised to anyone who practice their religion "in peace".

Read more: Nearly half of French Muslims report being discriminated against based on their religion

The government has largely distanced itself from remarks by Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet who declared the death threats received by Mila were "unacceptable in a democracy" but added her remarks about Islam were "clearly an infringement on freedom of conscience".

The controversy has come just over five years after a group of French cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by jihadist gunmen after poking fun at the Prophet Mohammed.

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