Founder of banned islamist NGO gets 10-month suspended sentence for cyberbullying

Idriss Sihamedi, founder of banned NGO BarakaCity
Idriss Sihamedi, founder of banned NGO BarakaCity © cage.ngo

The founder of the NGO Barakacity, which was recently dismantled by the French government, has been found guilty of the online harassment of a columnist with RMC radio.


Idriss Sihamedi, was handed a 10-month suspended prison sentence by the court near Paris on Friday and reprimanded with 5,000 euro fine.

Sihamedi, whose real name is Driss Yemmou, admitted that he had published 133 tweets in September citing RMC columnist Zohra Bitan, accusing the her of "pouring hatred against Muslim women".

On 11 September, BFMTV published a video of a student wearing a hijab giving cooking advice.

The columnist reacted to the video by publicly declaring that the student’s choice to wear a veil represented “an ideology from which stems from innumerable gender inequalities".

Taking to Twitter, Idriss Sihamedi then challenged the columnist and her two sons over alleged criminal offenses, pushing users of the social network to ask them for explanations, via the hashtag #BalanceZohraBitan.

The defendant had also published a photograph of the family’s letterbox along with stolen registered mail.

During the trial proceedings in February, the prosecution criticised Sihamedi’s "intimidation", citing "defamatory remarks" and the "repeated and degrading nature" of the facts.

History of cyberbullying

Sihamedi's defence lawyer had argued that the former CEO of Barakacity had not intended to engage in cyberstalking but wished to highlight Bitan’s “contradictions”.

This was not the first time Sihamedi has faced similar accusations.

In January, a Paris Criminal Court acquitted him of the online harassment against former Charlie Hebdo journalist and activist Zineb El Rhazoui.

His acquittal was subsequently appealed and last week he was ordered to pay a fine of 3,000 euros for racist insults against El Rhazoui, in a separate case.

The Barakacity association was shut down by the French government in October amid accusations of links to radical Islamist movements.


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