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‘Lynching 2.0’: 11 people get convicted for sending online death threats to French teenager who criticized Islam on Instagram

‘Lynching 2.0’: 11 people get convicted for sending online death threats to French teenager who criticized Islam on Instagram
Several people have received suspended prison sentences and were fined in France for participating in an online hate campaign against a high school student who harshly criticized the Islamic faith.

A Paris court sentenced 11 people to suspended prison terms of between four to six months for sending death threats and hateful messages to a teenager named Mila, who criticized Islam in an Instagram video last year. Two more defendants were released.

The defendants, men and women aged 18 to 29, were each ordered to pay €1,500 ($1,770) to the girl and €1,000 ($1,180) in legal fees, according to BFM TV.

In January 2020, Mila, who was a 16-year-old high school student at the time, was broadcasting an Instagram live stream during which she used harsh words to describe Islam while having a discussion with her followers.

“I hate religion, the Quran – there’s only hate there,” she said. “Your religion is crap.”

The girl quickly began receiving thousands of hate comments and messages in what the French media dubbed “lynching 2.0.” Many detractors said that Mila should be killed or raped for her words. The online bullying reportedly forced the student to leave school.

The judge in the case ruled that the harassment campaign has made “a psychological and physical impact” on the teenager.

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According to the L’Humanite newspaper, during the trial some defendants said they felt sorry for their actions. One young man was quoted as saying that he had “reacted like a child,” while another claimed that he had written a death threat to Mila “for fun and to get subscribers.”

The French parliament passed a law on combating hateful online content last summer. The government then vowed to crack down on the spreading of hateful messages on the heels of several terrorist incidents, including the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded in October 2020 by a young Islamist for showing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a civics class. The teacher was subjected to an online hate campaign before his murder.

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