It was the only case of its kind for which France had set up a new court to deal with the cyberbullying case. According to the Associated Press, a girl named Mela had to change schools several times after receiving threats and had to enlist the help of police to protect herself.
Each of the 11 convicts will have to pay a fine of 1, 1,770 while their jail term has been suspended. During the trial, Mela said that during the harassment, she felt like she was facing the death penalty. After the verdict, Mela said that all those who have been harassed online should unite against it and stop the harassers from accessing social media.
Mela says she is not a follower of any religion and was 16 years old when she posted critical videos on Islam and the Qur’an on Instagram and Tik Tak. Mela, now 18, says she doesn’t like any religion, not just Islam.
She says no one should be blamed for future cyber bullying. Mela’s lawyer, Richard Malika, said Mela had received more than 100,000 threatening messages, including anti-women remarks and threats of rape.
France’s Minister for Protection of Gender Equality and Discrimination, Marlene Sciappa, says France’s 2018 law prohibits cyberbullying. She says law enforcement should take action.
This unique case raises questions about freedom of expression, criticism of any religion, and the dignity of millions of Muslims living in France. However, the court focused on cyberbullying during the trial.
There were 13 defendants in the case who belong to different communities living in France. Defense attorney Hwan Branco condemned the point made in the lawsuit.
“Symbolic trials that use one person to send a message to society are very dangerous,” Hawan said. He cited the example of Jordan L., an accused, who said he was not an extremist but respected the beliefs of others. But they do not like the environment in which a certain segment of the French population is often targeted.
Threats and hate speech are on the rise in France in 2018, after legal harassment was legalized. According to police, there were 2,128 such incidents in 2019, compared to 2,848 last year.
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