Hate speech ‘common’ in French public life says report

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Council of Europe marks alarming rise in racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic violence

PARIS – The Council of Europe on Tuesday voiced concerns over the rise of hate speech in France, warning it had become “commonplace in the public sphere”.

A report said the increase in racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence was alarming.

“Hate speech, which has become commonplace in the public sphere, remains a matter of concern,” Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said. “I call on political leaders in particular to refrain from making comments which stigmatize already vulnerable groups and fuel tensions in French society.”

The council’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance report was compiled before the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris but the authors said it contained recommendations that were “fully relevant today”.

It made two central recommendations – that schools promote better understanding of religion and immigration and that the rights of members of the Roma community are respected when applying for residence.

According to Interior Ministry figures cited in the report, racially motivated violence rose by 14 percent between 2012 and 2014. Over the same period, anti-Muslim acts rose 2 percent while anti-Semitic acts jumped 36 percent.

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