Under Macron, France Brings Back ‘Preventive Censorship’ After More Than 140 Years

Authored by Oliver Bault via Remix News

On May 9, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin asked the prefects throughout France to ban all events and protests organized by “the far right or the ultra-right.” In Paris alone, the police prefecture banned six such events last weekend, including a symposium organized by the Iliade Institute

The symposium that was to take place on Sunday aimed to honour the memory of Dominique Venner, a historian who took his life exactly 10 years ago in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris as a “sacrifice” to “break with the lethargy that is overwhelming us,” to “awaken slumbering consciences.”

In one of the six decisions taken by the police prefect in Paris last weekend to comply with the order of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne’s government, an administrative court overturned the ban against a conference and a march organized by the royalist organization Action Française to commemorate Joan of Arc. It was thus allowed to proceed and did so without disrupting public order, just like in previous years.

The organizers of the Iliade Institute’s symposium, however, were informed so late – less than 24 hours before their planned event – that it was impossible to obtain an interim measure in their favour by a court. Hence, when the persons invited to the symposium turned out at the venue rented out by the Iliade Institute in Paris, a police cordon barred their entry.

Laurent Nuñez, the police prefect of Paris, motivated the ban by stating in his decision that: “There is a serious risk that, on the occasion of this tribute, statements inciting hatred and discrimination against a group of people because of their origin or their membership or non-membership of an ethnic group, nation or religion will be made (…) of such a nature as to call into question national cohesion and the principles enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.”

This is exactly what preventive censorship is about: Nothing has yet been done or said by the Iliade Institute or any participant in the banned symposium, but this might happen, so it should not take place at all. This type of censorship was previously eliminated in France with the 1881 law on freedom of the press and up to now it was only re-established in times of war.

However, in 2014 the president of the Conseil d’Etat, France’s top administrative court which is closely linked to the executive branch, as its judges are often rewarded for their services with top posts in ministries, created precedence by validating a ban against a show by Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a French comic owing his African name to his father from Cameroon, who had been previously convicted several times of inciting racial hatred because of his anti-Zionist jokes, which were said to be anti-Semitic.

But the May 9 decision by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin goes even further because it targets organizations that have not necessarily been convicted in the past but belong to the “far right” or “ultra-right” in the eyes of French authorities.

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