A Paris court has convicted 11 out of 13 accused of cyberbullying a teenager for her anti-Muslim videos. The landmark online abuse case was heard by a court in Paris, which ruled suspended sentences, fines for 11 people charged with harassing and threatening 18-year-old Mila.
The court handed out the verdict of sentencing the defendants to suspended prison terms of four to six months, along with a fine of $1,770 each. Accordingly, the convicts need not serve jail term as long as they are not convicted for other offences. Let us check out the details of Mila online abuse case.
Mila is known for posting anti-Islam videos online. Her first video on Instagram attracted too much hate comments and netizens even sent her death and rape threats. France established a new court in January to deal with online crimes. The court also takes cases of harassment and discrimination. Thus, this was the first case taken up by the new court.
The presiding judge Michel Humbert compared social media to a street. "Social networks are the street. When you pass someone in the street, you don't insult them, threaten them, make fun of them. What you don't do in the street, don't do on social media," said Humbert.
One of the two persons acquitted by the court had commented "Blow it up," on Mila's Twitter profile. The court stated that the comment was directed at Mila's Twitter profile and not her. The case was dropped against him. Case against another defendant was dropped citing faulty procedures.
Offensive or Right to Blasphemy?
Meanwhile, Mila has clarified that she felt as if she had been condemned to death. She clarified that she does not like any religion. "I don't like any religion, not just Islam," she said during the trial. She identifies herself as an atheist. She had started recording videos two years ago. But her first video went online in 2020, inviting the wrath of practitioners of Islam.
She had started posting videos on Instagram two years ago and later also made Tik tok videos criticizing Islam and Quran. Her videos have made her a popular personality in France. She is also considered as a symbol of free speech and right to blasphemy. But her critics have termed her Islamophobic. They have stated that Mila's videos are full of expletive-laden rant and comments, which are highly offensive to practising Muslims.
Mila was represented by lawyer Richard Malka. The lawyer told the media that so far Mila had received 100,000 threatening messages that also include threats of death and rape threats.
The greatest support to Mila came from President Emmanuel Macron. "The law is clear that the French citizens have the right to blaspheme, to criticise and to caricature religions," said Marcon. According to France's hate speech laws, inciting hatred against a group based on their religion or race is a criminal offence. But the country's law does not prevent people from criticising or insulting religious beliefs.