A former economic advisor to the National Rally (RN) was convicted on Friday of defamation, for having affirmed in May 2021 that the party’s investiture committee tended to “oust all people who were of Jewish origin” in regional elections.
Jean-Richard Sulzer, former economic advisor to Marine Le Pen and presenting himself as leader of a movement representing activists of the Jewish faith within the RN, is sentenced by the Paris criminal court to a 500 euro suspended fine, to 2,000 euros in damages and 2,000 euros in legal costs.
In a dispatch published by AFP on May 31, 2021, he claimed to have seen “gradually the nomination committee oust all the people who were of Jewish origin” in the regional elections and to have allowed “authentic anti-Semites to rise in rank “. At the time an outgoing regional councilor in Hauts-de-France, he was himself a candidate for the departmental elections in Hauts-de-Seine.
Jean-Richard Sulzer “did not have a factual basis”
The court considered that these comments accusing the party of undemocratic and discriminatory practices were indeed of a defamatory nature, and that “despite the general interest attached to the subject”, Jean-Richard Sulzer “did not have a factual basis for allowing us to pronounce, with an affirmative tone devoid of any caution, the imputation of an act as serious as that of racist discrimination.
This conviction comes a few days after the controversy surrounding the participation of the far-right party in demonstrations against anti-Semitism of November 12, in a context of resurgence of anti-Semitic acts in France since the attack of unprecedented scale by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the south of Israel, on October 7, and the mive response since then by the Israeli army targeting the Gaza Strip.
The announced presence of the RN in the rallies pushed some to boycott the event, recalling in particular the numerous anti-Semitic declarations of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front and father of Marine Le Pen. The former presidential candidate has increased messages to a community in recent weeks who was electorally hostile to him, displaying his support for Israel and affirming that the RN “protects” French people of Jewish faith.