Oct 17, 2010


The French Consulate in Edinburgh faced protest yesterday on the day that a French Green Party MP and a university professor faced trial on charges of racism over their support for the growing campaign to boycott Israel.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) organised the protest to show support with Senator Boumediene-Thiery and Professor Omar Slaouti, a leading member of the NPA anticapitalist party. Around 30 campaigners held placards with slogans such as “Boycott Israel, not Gypsies”, and “Israel is a country, not a race”.
However, the case against the French pair lasted only 45 minutes before being thrown out of the Pontoise court to cheers from their supporters, who had gathered in their hundreds despite a national transport strike.
SPSC chair Mick Napier welcomed the legal decision but criticised what he referred to as the “political show-trials”. Said Napier, “The French Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, stated before the trials had even begun that boycotting Israel was a crime. This is a very dangerous interference in the judicial process, but it is encouraging to hear that the judge today was not swayed. It is clearly ironic that a French state in the process of expelling its Roma population is accusing human rights activists of racism.”
Napier was one of five SPSC activists cleared of similar racism charges in Scotland earlier this year. In dismissing that case, Sheriff Scott said, “… if persons on a public march designed to protest against and publicise alleged crimes committed by a state and its army are afraid to name that state for fear of being charged with racially aggravated behaviour, it would render worthless their Article 10(1) rights. Presumably their placards would have to read, ‘Genocide in an unspecified state in the Middle East’; ‘Boycott an unspecified state in the Middle East’”.
Olivia Zemor of French group EuroPalestine said that more trials were set for coming months, including the appeal by Sakina Arnaud, who was convicted of racism for fixing a sticker saying "Boycott Apartheid Israel" to a bottle of orange juice.

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