Back in 2002, Jean-Claude Fernand Willem, the Communist mayor of a municipality in France, announced a new policy. His municipality would, henceforth, boycott all Israeli products.
France, as a member of the European Union, has laws which prohibit unlawful discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity or national origin. It also has laws which make it a criminal offence to incite others to discriminate.
Accordingly, Willem was prosecuted and ultimately convicted of the offence of provoking discrimination on national, racial and religious grounds, under Articles 23 and 24 of the Press Act of 29 July 1881. He was fined EUR 1000.
As a Communist, it must have stuck in Willem’s craw to be forced to use the bourgeois courts to save him from paying the fine. Nevertheless, Willem brought a case before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that his Article 10 rights to Freedom of Expression had been violated.
The Court reiterated that for interference with freedom of expression, especially that of an elected representative, to comply with the Convention, it had to be “necessary in a democratic society”. Like the French courts, the Court took the view that Mr Willem had not been convicted for his political opinions but for inciting the commission of a discriminatory, and therefore punishable, act.
Those chaps in Scotland who are being prosecuted under similar anti-racist legislation should be feeling a little nervous.
Hat tip: Karl Pfeifer
“Vive La France! Vive La Democratie!”
Gene adds: In 2005, a provincial government in Norway voted to boycott Israeli products. I don’t know if anyone took them to court.