French right-wing presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has been fined 10,000 Euros for describing unmarried young men who illegally migrate to France as “killers, thieves, and rapists” who have no reason to be in France. Zemmour, who unexpectedly soared in the polls last year, has since been subjected to a barrage of attacks from the mainstream media. He has already faced charges repeatedly in the past for his fiery rhetoric.
Candidate punished for anti-migrant remarks
The fine stems from comments made during a TV appearance late in 2020. Zemmour is a longtime right-wing pundit and has accumulated many accusations of hate speech.
The presidential candidate did not bother to attend his trial in November and is unlikely to be at all distressed by the conviction and fine.
Zemmour has already admitted that the odds are against his campaign, given that he is the major outsider candidate in the election and faces an uphill battle against the more established political operatives.
Still, negative media attention has not put a stop to his flourishing popularity amongst French voters, many of whom wouldn’t disagree with his characterization of illegal immigrants.
Zemmour has argued that hate speech laws have been constructed by” anti-racist” activist groups to suppress dissent and limit freedom of speech.
If anything, this punishment just gives him even more evidence to support that argument and supports his claim that the political establishment is afraid of his outsider campaign.
Zemmour, Le Pen compete for right-wing vote
France elects its presidents through a runoff system, in which the two candidates who win the most votes in the first round face each other exclusively in a second round.
Right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen advanced to the second round in 2017 but was easily defeated by current president Emmanuel Macron, who ran as a centrist.
Le Pen is running again, competing with Zemmour and several other candidates for the right-wing vote. One of them will almost certainly face Macron in round two, though the incumbent has not yet formally announced his 2022 campaign.
French presidents have historically been consumed by scandals and extreme unpopularity by the end of their terms. Macron has survived better than most, but the French public has a habit of disliking its leaders.
Eric Zemmour is an unlikely standard bearer for the French right, given that he comes from an Algerian Jewish background, but he has established himself as a firmly nationalist candidate who prioritizes the French demographic crisis.
Zemour has called abortion “collective suicide” and advocates a national return to traditional values. He wants to see an end to both illegal and legal immigration and says that France should distance itself from NATO and Biden’s America.