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Far-right French presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour found guilty of provoking racial hatred

The far-right French firebrand hoping to become his country’s new President was today found guilty of provoking racial hatred by calling child immigrants ‘thieves, rapists and murderers’.

Eric Zemmour, 63, was not in the Paris Criminal Court on Monday when judges read out the verdict, and said he would have to pay a fine equivalent to £8000.

Zemmour, a magazine journalist turned television pundit, has already been convicted twice on similar charges. 

His latest conviction followed a trial in November when Zemmour denied a charge of ‘complicity in provoking racial hatred and racial insult.’

It is the latest in a turbulent few months for the presidential hopeful, who was revealed to be having a love child with his 28-year-old assistant in November and waved an assault rifle at reporters while telling them to ‘back off’ in October. 

Despite this, Zemmour is standing to replace Emmanuel Macron as President of France in April. 

Opinion polls currently put him behind in the presidential race to Mr Macron and Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Rally, as well as Valerie Pecresse, the Republican’s candidate. 

Far-right French firebrand Eric Zemmour, 63, who is hoping to become his country’s new President was today found guilty of provoking racial hatred by calling child immigrants ‘thieves, rapists and murderers’

In November it was revealed Zemmour is expecting a love child with his personal assistant Sarah Knafo (pictured together in December 2021) who at 28, is 35 years his junior

In November it was revealed Zemmour is expecting a love child with his personal assistant Sarah Knafo (pictured together in December 2021) who at 28, is 35 years his junior

Pictured: A still grab from a video of the incident a Paris gun fair on Wednesday shows Zemmour looking down the scope of a sniper rifle

In scenes posted on social media, Mr Zemmour can be seen brandishing a sniper rifle in the direction of journalists at a Paris gun fair, without making any safety checks whatsoever

In scenes posted on social media, Mr Zemmour can be seen brandishing a sniper rifle in the direction of journalists at a Paris gun fair, without making any safety checks whatsoever. Pictured: Still grabs from a video of the incident a Paris gun fair showing Zemmour looking down the scope of the rifle before pointing it at the press on Wednesday

His defence barrister Olivier Pardo said his client did not attend the hearing today ‘in order to prevent the judicial compound from turning into a non-stop TV news studio’.

The case centered on Zemmour’s appearance during a live debate on the CNews TV channel in September 2020.

It followed a Pakistani national being arrested for wounding two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

The attacker originally claimed to be 18, but it then emerged that he was in fact 25.

Despite this, Zemmour told the program that there were too many unaccompanied child migrants from Muslim majority countries in France, saying: ‘All these young people are from an immigrant background. They have no place here.

‘They are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are – they must all be sent back, and they shouldn’t come in the first place.’

Complaints poured in, including from numerous local authorities in France who are charged with looking after child migrants.

‘These are young people who have the right to protection and a dignified welcome,’ said Stéphane Troussel, president of the Seine-Saint-Denis departmental council.

‘We cannot tolerate the combined actions and racism which this gravedigger of the French Republic is accustomed,’ Mr Troussel added.

In turn, Zemmour denied any wrongdoing, while his defence counsel argued that the trial has become politicised because of their client’s presidential ambitions.

Eric Zemmour, 63, was placed in a headlock by an unidentified assailant as he walked through the crowd at the Zenith area in northern Paris in December

Eric Zemmour, 63, was placed in a headlock by an unidentified assailant as he walked through the crowd at the Zenith area in northern Paris in December

Zemmour was first convicted of provoking racial hatred in February 2011, and then he was found guilty of provoking religious hatred in June 2017.

He frequently rages against Muslims, black people and anybody else from an immigrant background.

Zemmour has also been accused of virulent anti-Semitism after denying – against all the historical evidence – that the French collaborated with the Nazis during the wartime Holocaust.  

Today’s conviction was the latest in a string of chaotic incidents involving the far-right presidential hopeful. 

In October, Zemmour waved an assault rifle at journalists and saying: ‘Back off!’

In scenes posted on social media, Zemmour was seen brandishing the weapon, without making any safety checks whatsoever, at the Milipol arms fair in Paris.

And in November it was revealed Zemmour is expecting a love child with his personal assistant Sarah Knafo who at 28, is 35 years his junior. 

The news came out after the presidential hopeful took legal action to try to prevent French outlet Closer from publishing details of his secret affair. 

But the privacy application was thrown out of court and in November the magazine ran with the headline: ‘Eric Zemmour is going to be a daddy in 2022’. 

Polls currently show France's President Emmanuel Macron (pictured in Poitiers, western France, on October 8, 2021) ahead in the first round of the presidential election

Polls currently show France’s President Emmanuel Macron (pictured in Poitiers, western France, on October 8, 2021) ahead in the first round of the presidential election

Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Rally

Valerie Pecresse, the Republican¿s candidate

Opinion polls currently put Zemmour behind in the presidential race to Mr Macron and Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Rally, (left) as well as Valerie Pecresse, the Republican’s candidate (right)

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