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Criminal prosecution of hate speech: a necessity in a democratic society

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) once again has confirmed the necessity in a democratic society to criminalize, prosecute and sanction “hate speech”. In a case involving the French writer/journalist/politician and former presidential candidate Éric Zemmour, the ECtHR found that the politician’s conviction and sentencing for the offence of inciting discrimination and religious hatred against the French Muslim community for statements made on a television show did not violate his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 ECHR. The ECtHR found that the remarks formulated by Zemmour were not to be considered as criticism of Islam: in view of the context of terrorist violence in which they had occurred, the offensive statements had been made with discriminatory intent such as to call on viewers to reject and exclude the Muslim community.

European Court of Human Rights, Fifth Section, in the case of Zemmour v. France, Application no. 63539/19, 20 December 2022,
See also

And recently published : our book chapter on the lack of effective protection against certain forms of hate speech in Belgium: Dirk Voorhoof, “Naar een effectieve vervolging van het strafbaar aanzetten tot discriminatie, haat of geweld via (online)media”, in Elisabeth Alofs, Elise Goossens, Jachin Van Doninck, Koen Byttebier (eds.), Redelijk eigenzinnig… liber amicorum Eric Brewaeys, Philipe Colle,  Erna Guldix en Bruno Maes, Knops Publishing, 1011-1036, 2022,

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