Four French Students Sentenced, Pay Over $1,000 Fines for Anti-Asian Tweets About COVID-19

A Paris court convicted four young adults of “public insult of racist nature and incitement to commit a crime” after they blamed Chinese people for COVID-19 on Twitter.

What they did: The French students, aged 19-24, posted the racist tweets after President Emmanuel Macron announced a second round of home quarantine rules last October.

  • “Put me in a cage with a Chinese, I want to have fun with him, break him, I want to see all hope in his eyes fade before me,” one of them tweeted, according to RFI.
  • In March, the students went to a trial initiated by a special unit of the Association des Jeunes Chinois de France (Association of Young Chinese of France or AJCF), which was launched in January to fight online hate.
  • On Wednesday, all four were sentenced to two days of civic education and ordered to pay 250 euros ($300) to each of the seven plaintiffs, as well as 1,000 euros ($1,223) in fines, according to AFP.
  • A fifth student involved in the case was absolved of the accusations.

Why this matters: The escalation of anti-Asian sentiment amid the coronavirus pandemic has not only been reported in the U.S. but in other Western countries, too.

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  • In May 2020, a study by France’s Institute of National Demographic Studies found that the coronavirus pandemic “revealed new dimensions of anti-Asian racism” in the country.
  • In the March hearing, one of the students argued that they only wanted “to make my friends laugh,” according to France 24.
  • AJCF President Laetitia Chhiv described her shock at seeing the tweets, which she described as a “normalized” form of racism.
  • After Wednesday’s verdict, AJCF lawyer Soc Lam told CNN that the trial had “brought the public and the judges’ attention on this phenomenon, so that those messages of hate stop.”

Featured Image via Pixabay

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