Brussels (Brussels Morning) French presidential contender, far-right pundit Eric Zemmour was due in court today, facing charges of inciting racial hatred over his remarks he made last year about unaccompanied child migrants.
While Zemmour has yet to formally announce his candidacy, recent polls show him beating competing right-wing candidate, National Rally leader, Marine Le Pen, making him the most likely contender to enter the second-round runoff with the current President Emmanuel Macron.
Controversial pundit and writer, infamous for his derogatory views on Islam and immigration, Zemmour was previously convicted by French courts in similar cases, and has most recently stirred up a controversy by claiming that the reason for the gender wage gap is because women choose low-paying professions.
On Wednesday, he faced charges of inciting racial hatred having referred to unaccompanied child migrants as “thieves, rapists and killers”. His attorney Olivier Pardo insists the charges are unfounded, telling RMC radio that “he’s wanted for ‘racial hate’ but as far as I know an unaccompanied minor is neither a race, nor a nation, nor an ethnicity.”
According to Pardo, Zemmour’s opponents are seeking to stir up a trial by public opinion. He stressed that his client would not appear in court personally, apparently because he refuses to turn the justice hall “into a political arena”.
Zemmour’s entire comment on child migrants was aired during a CNews debate in September 2020, when he said: “They have no reason being here, they are thieves, they are killers, they are rapists, that’s all they do, they should be sent back.” France’s broadcasting regulator subsequently fined CNews 200,000 euro for airing the comment.