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French Court Fines Catholic Priest for Video Inciting Hatred of Jews

A neo-Nazi activist and a Catholic priest have been fined by a court in France for a video posted to YouTube that incited violence and hatred against Jews.

Hervé Lalin — a seasoned far-right activist who also goes by the name Hervé Ryssen — was sentenced to a 2,000 euro ($2,200) fine, which will convert into a prison sentence if it remains unpaid. His colleague Fr. Olivier Rioult — the author of an antisemitic book on the “Jewish question” — was sentenced to a 1,000 euro fine.

In the video, posted in 2019, the two men engaged in crudely antisemitic invective, describing Jewish people as “unbearable” and “abominable” and comparing them to “snakes.” At one point, they issued a call to genocide, calling the Jews “a problem whose solution requires continual combat and extermination.”

A serial offender, Lalin has been sentenced by courts in France 15 times since 2005. In Sept. 2020, Lalin was sentenced to a 17-month jail term for a series of antisemitic postings on Facebook and Twitter, as well as for a video he posted on YouTube in 2018 — titled “The Jews, Incest and Hysteria” — in which he attacked Jews as a “people of incest.”

In a statement justifying its conclusion that the goal of the video was to incite antisemitic agitation, the court said that Lalin had been well aware that his remarks were likely to result in legal proceedings against him.

Lalin is an integral member of a network of French propagandists who are dedicated to the denial and distortion of the Holocaust and the promotion of antisemitic tropes. As well as Lalin, the group includes Jerome Bourbon Rivarol, Alain Soral, Yvan Benedetti and Vincent Reynouard — all of whom engage “in systematic denial of the crimes of the Third Reich and the rehabilitation of the murderous [Nazi] regime,” according to the French news outlet Liberation.