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France unveils plan to fight racism

Manuel Valls announced new measures against racism
Manuel Valls announced new measures to counter racism and anti-Semitism. Photo : Philippe Wojzar/Reuters

The Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented on Friday his plan to fight against racism and anti-Semitism with 40 measures structured around justice, the Internet and education.

Yesterday, the French government announced a list of 40 measures for how it plans to crackdown on racism and anti-Semitism.

The measures that they announced will set the government back around €100 million over 3 years and are centred on the areas of the internet, schools and on toughening the law itself.

“Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an intolerable manner,” the Prime minister Manuel Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Creteil,  the scene of a brutal attack on a Jewish man and his girlfriend in December.

And in reference to those who fire off racist abuse on social media and other online platforms Manuel Valls said: “Passivity on the internet, it’s over.”

He said the plan provides for an establishment of “a national unit in the struggle against hate on the internet” and it will require require web hosting services to play their part and to “have legal representation in France.”

The move comes just over three months after the Paris terror attacks which prompted a spike in both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic acts.

On Thursday, the country’s Islamophobia watchdog said anti-Muslim acts had lept six-fold in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2014.

It also comes just two months after a damning report from the human rights watchdog The Council of Europe which concluded that the French public are becoming more racist and more intolerant towards minorities.

Essentially the government wants to stiffen the punishment on those found guilty of hate speech.

In the past, these cases were dealt with under France’s more lenient press laws, but now they will be dealt with through the stricter penal code, which will mean justice will be meted out quicker and the penalties will be tougher.

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