French court rejects journalist's appeal in racial insult case

Police unionist affected by racial slur says Taha Bouhafs 'told lie after lie to cover his ignominy' in court

Taha Bouhafs poses during a photo session in Aubervilliers, northern Paris, in May 2022. AFP
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France's Court of Cassation on Tuesday upheld a conviction against a journalist who posted a racial slur on X against an Arab member of the country's policing union.

Taha Bouhafs challenged his conviction for racist public insult after calling police unionist Linda Kebbab “a service Arab” in a tweet that was subsequently deleted.

Following a protest in June 2020, sparked by the death of Adama Traore who died after being arrested, Ms Kebbab, national delegate of the Unité SGP-FO police union, spoke to the television station Franceinfo.

She said that, while she understood “the anger and suffering” of Mr Traore's family, his death had “absolutely nothing to do” with that of George Floyd in the US, who died of suffocation after his arrest.

After Ms Kebbab's appearance, Bouhafs commented on her statements on her Twitter account, which at the time had 80,000 followers.

He misused the acronym ADS (security deputy), calling the police unionist “ADS: Arab on duty” in a tweet which he deleted a few minutes later because he said it was “provocative”.

During the appeal, the court said Bouhafs's tweet was “contemptuous of” Ms Kebbab, “defined solely by her supposed origin and designated by an offensive term” and “exceeded the admissible limits of freedom of expression”.

Following the verdict, Ms Kebbab reacted on X, saying: “The Court of Cassation rejected Taha Bouhafs’s appeal. He is ad vitam convicted of racist insult. During the hearings, he told lie after lie to cover his ignominy. Lies that only his idolaters believe. The judges were not convinced.”

Bouhafs replied: “I don't care what a handful of white, bourgeois judges think who have never experienced racism in their lives and who don't even understand what it means.”

Updated: January 03, 2024, 7:34 PM