The conflict in the Middle East has led to an upsurge in anti-Semitic acts in France, but some did not wait until October 7 to convey nauseating messages. Three young people aged between 22 and 25 were given suspended prison sentences on Tuesday in Rouen for widely distributing anti-Semitic and racist leaflets praising neo-Nazi ideology.
It was in May 2023 that the Rouen prosecutor's office was seized after the distribution of these hateful leaflets, stamped with swastikas and extolling the alleged superiority of the "white man". They had been disseminated either by e-mail, in particular to elected officials, or directly to the mailboxes of individuals.
Investigations had made the link with racist tags that appeared in August 2023 in the commune of La Neuville-Chant d'Oisel (Seine-Maritime) and identified several suspects. Some of them were involved in another distribution of hate leaflets near the memorial to the internment camp in Gurs (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), which houses more than a thousand Jewish graves. During the arrests, investigators found leaflets and stencils, some weapons as well as an armband and a Nazi flag.
"Familiarity" with Dempart
The Rouen prosecutor's office stressed at the time that the hearings of the suspects in police custody had confirmed their "sympathy with far-right and neo-Nazi ideology and their familiarity with the participatory democracy organization." The organization's website, hosted in the United States, was the subject of a request to be blocked by the courts in 2018 following multiple convictions for Holocaust denial, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks.
Three defendants were tried on Friday, for public apology for crime and incitement to hatred, by the Rouen judicial court, which had reserved its judgment. The youngest of the defendants, who appears to be the ringleader and had printed the leaflets, was sentenced to 15 months in prison with a two-year probationary period, a ban on possessing a weapon and an obligation to work.
The other two were given suspended prison sentences of 10 and 8 months, respectively, and a citizenship course. All three were also ordered to pay jointly and severally damages to the five associations recognised as civil parties. "We are satisfied with this sentencing decision, which is substantially equivalent to the requests of the prosecution while the defense had pleaded for acquittal," said Elie Montreuil, lawyer for SOS racism and SOS homophobia.