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France to devote 100 million euros to fight against anti-Semitism, racism

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) and Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve present the anti-racism plan in Créteil on Friday
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) and Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve present the anti-racism plan in Créteil on Friday Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday pledged 100 million euros to finance a plan to fight racism and anti-Semitism, three months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. The increase in prejudice in France was "insufferable", he commented.

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"Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners and homophobia are growing in an insufferable manner in our country," Valls told reporters in Créteil, just outside Paris, after presenting his plan.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Créteil was chosen because of an attack on a young couple in their home there five months ago.

The attackers raped the wife and said that they believed the victims had money because they were Jewish.

In January, after Saïd and Chérif Kouachi murdered 12 people at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical paper, their accomplice Amédy Coulibaly took hostages and killed four people at a kosher supermarket, prompting the government to promise action against anti-Semitism, racism and terror attacks.

No fewer than five ministers, including Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, accompanied Valls.

The government is to devote 100 million euros over three years to putting the 40-point plan into action.

Among its principal measures are:

  • The inclusion of hate speech, previously banned in the law on the press, in penal law; The establishment of racism or anti-Semitism as an "aggravating factor" that can lead to tougher sentences for a related crime;
  • Permitting class action suits for discrimination;
  • The creation of a national police unit to combat hate on the internet and the obligation of internet providers to have a legal identity in France;
  • A clampdown on racism and anti-Semitism in schools.

The 100 million euros will be spent on publicity of the campaing's aims and local action against prejudice.

"French Jews should not be afraid of being Jewish," said Valls. "French Muslims should not be ashamed of being Muslims."

 

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