Brigitte Bardot’s repeated convictions for inciting racial hatred

Should a world famous actress be allowed to denounce an ‘overpopulation’ by foreigners? By Michèle Finck.

The case

After retiring from her career as a supermodel and actress, Brigitte Bardot hit the headlines several times for her controversial remarks about the role of Islam in French society. Indeed, she was convicted of incitement of racial hatred (under this French law) no fewer than five times – mainly for comments highly critical of France’s immigration and assimilation policies.

Bardot’s first offence, for which she was found guilty in 1997, was to use a newspaper column to complain of the ‘foreign overpopulation’ of France. In 2000, she was convicted for having written in her book Pluto’s Square that ‘my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims.’ In 2004, she was found guilty for having published another book, A Cry in the Silence, in which she established a generalised link between Islam and the terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September 2001 and again argued that immigration was leading to a ‘Islamisation of France’. 2008 brought a fourth conviction after a letter she had written to Nicolas Sarkozy (then France’s minister of the interior, known for his hard-line stance against immigration) in which she referred to France’s Muslim population as ‘this population which leads us by the nose and destroys us and our country’ had been leaked to the press.

Author opinion

I believe these convictions were justified. This series of cases illustrates that, despite the right to free speech being worthy of protection, it should not be used to incite hatred against a group of people. As such, free speech cannot be invoked to legitimise Islamophobic comments.

- Michèle Finck

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Comments (3)

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  1. Yes, a world famous actress, or anyone else, ought to be able to denounce anything.

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I will also say that I believe Islam to be an extremely dangerous religion, and as Michel Houellebecq famously said, it is “the stupidest of all religions”. Wherever there are large numbers of Musliums, there is suffering and strife. Take a look at most of the conflicts in the world today. Pakistan-India, Afghanistan, Palestine-Israel, Nigeria (Boko Haram), Somalia, in fact all of the ‘-stans’, not to mention acts of terror caused by individual Muslims in Western countries. The politically correct message is that Islam is a religion of peace, but I’m afraid that the facts tell a different story. And one can never know which Muslim will turn out to be a terrorist – take the Boston bombers for instance: the younger one seemed to be a completely normal university student, or the example of the Muslim who schemed to blow up a train in Canada – a PhD student! Mohammad Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, studied at a technical school in Germany.

    • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      I think Europeans have had similar thought about Jews in early last century likewise and they slaughtered millions of Jews. So, to say today Dick McJohnson and Michel Houllebecq like people target yet another religion of peace. There was large number of Christians in Europe and we saw World War I, and World War II.

      All these tensions have been watered and sowed by Catholic countries of the West namely the UK. Kashmir issue was left out in South Asia by UK so that both countries live in disharmony – Afghanistan has twice been torn by Catholic countries of Russia, and later by the US, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Denmark and entire NATO – UK devastated Palestine by sending influx of Jews from Europe to grab lands of Palestine – Somalia waters have been occupied by UK and US Navies.

      What does message of Christ tell you? to make nuclear bomb, to annihilate 6 million Jews, to keep producing weapons of mass destruction. I am sorry but it was Christian majority country the USA who dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, not Muslim. Irish Republican Army was not Muslim, who spread terrorism across the Europe, ETA of Spain is not Muslim organization who bomb trains and civilians.

      We, never knew that amongst good Britons, Dick McJohnson turned out to be complete racist and islamophobia – what a sad chapter the venom you have spread here. Yes, think of the problem of this sort of Boston and Canada, or London – these were born and trained in the US, Canada, or UK respectively, and yet what kind of society exists in both USA – Canada – UK that forced them to do so.

      Let the people of Muslim countries live in peace and they won’t become freedom-fighters. Stop occupying their lands – stop spreading venom like this Talk about elimination of Europeans laws which penalize ‘holocaust deniers’ likewise – you biased and hypocrite islamophobia –

  3. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I feel very strongly about this issue. Western society has gone too far with political correctness. I have nothing against members of any other religions, but we have allowed into our countries hordes of Muslims, many of whom do not respect the customs and laws of their adopted countries, perpetrating acts of terror, demanding sharia law, covering their women head to toe and declaring that Western women are decadent for not doing so, etc etc. In such circumstances, it is altogether justified to question how reasonable it was to invite such numbers of cultural aliens/outsiders into our tolerant Western countries. Tolerance has its limits. I am shocked that it is not even permitted to criticise Muslim immigration and Islam. One should not have to like Islam. It is my right to dislike a religion that essentially defines me as an infidel and an enemy (although many Muslims are unwilling to admit to this). I demand that that right be protected. I call upon the UK government to stop policing Facebook commenters who criticise Islam. This is the situation that spurred me to write this comment: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22665443

    • Of all the countries the french invaded, you are seriously gonna defend and spit out this garbage. Shows your ignorance. What you destroy becomes your responsibility. Leave it with you intolerant dirt bag.

    • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      You say ‘I have nothing against members of any other religions’ – and slowly you go on preaching about your ultimate hatred against Muslim immigrants from other parts of the world. Let’s say that Christians of Europe and North America likewise do not like the way people of Muslim countries live in their own countries; and how about then invading them in their own countries with F-16s.

      Let me know of any protests or group in Europe and North America that calls for host countries to adopt ‘Shariah Law’? Even in Afghanistan, there is no Shariah Law. Stop, spreading non-sense out here. Muslim women wear veil (Burqa) on their own wish – you cannot take naive people to believe that in UK, a Muslim man could force woman to wear burqa.

      Is it that what you call ‘tolerant western countries’ who have problems with ‘aliens/outsiders’ but tolerant only within their own people? Well, this kind of tolerance is also found within North Korean people. It is your racial thinking to sideline Muslims from ‘mass ethnic groups’ – only when someone happens to be Muslim, the justice on grounds of ethnicity, is wiped out.

      You are truly hypocrite and impose your own abstract opinion by stereotyping Muslim ummah by spreading these lies out here. You are a perfect racist person, who lies in his comment in the start that you do not have nothing against members of other religions; but ultimately your all comments bear significant hatred against often targeted religion in the west.

      • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Your idea of free speech, like The French government and radical Islam, fall seriously short of that in the US.

        Without the free and open exchange of ideas regarding the publicly demonstrated primitive and violent nature of Islam as expressed in Sharia law, how are we to know it and judge whether it is acceptable in our societies?

        There have already been efforts by Muslims in US courts to allow the imposition of Sharia law within Muslim communities. This is totally unacceptable for several reasons, not the least of which is that only US law is permitted. Muslim communities want to set up their own internal legal system which will never be tolerated.

        How ironic that France criminalizes Bardot for expressing her views and at the same time prohibits veils and deports Romanians. Then, after welcoming millions of Muslim immigrants, terrorists pull the “I am Charlie” raid. Why? Why attack a country friendly to your own people?

        If Islam is so tolerant, why are other religions not allowed to practice and establish houses of worship in Muslim countries? And don’t bring up Indonesia, because the Christians there are constantly persecuted and their churches burned by “tolerant” Muslims.

        Why are Muslims emigrating from their own countries to live in strange, completely foreign societies in the West? England is awash in Pakistanis. Why? Is life at home so terrible? Then stay at home and fix your country. Or perhaps many are fearful of honor killings, stoning, mob lynching and intolerance, all in the name of Islam.

        If Bardot wants to speak on this and her fears of the insidious encroachment of an intolerant, dangerous, and primitive lifestyle, she should be able to do so freely and openly. Unlike radical Imams in Mosques throughout Europe, she is not teaching religious overthrowing of her country and the replacement of western law with Sharia law.

      • Big difference between racism and just being for controlled immigration, ie. at a reasonable rate so as not to destroy the countries noble enough to take in these immigrants, many of whom have already contributed to the destruction of their homelands. Overpopulation, too rapid assimulation, leads to chaos, failed institutions and poverty for all except a select few in control. An far worse situation than what Bardot advocates!

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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