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France: Anti-racism commission concerned at rise of hate speech and violence motivated by intolerance

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has endorsed a new report on France which reveals a rise in hate speech and racist violence.

“I commend the significant efforts made by the French authorities to combat racism and intolerance,” Jagland said on the publication today of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report.

“However, hate speech, which has become commonplace in the public sphere, remains a matter of concern. I call on political leaders in particular to refrain from making comments which stigmatise already vulnerable groups and fuel tensions in French society.”

The ECRI report reveals alarm at the rise of hate speech and the increase in racist, antisemitic and islamophobic violence.

“Although it was drafted before the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the report contains recommendations to the French authorities which are fully relevant today”, said ECRI’s chair Christian Ahlund.

The report offers support for measures taken by France to tackle intolerance. These include the creation of a post of inter-ministerial co-ordinator for combating racism and intolerance, the adoption of two plans for combating racism and anti-semitism, the prosecution and conviction of people responsible for hate crimes and the introduction of a new curriculum providing education in civic and democratic values.

ECRI also notes the high level of under-reporting of racist crime, the cuts in budgets earmarked for integration policies and the remaining gaps in the criminal-law provisions relating to hate speech.

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