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French mayor fined for 'too many Muslim children' comment - BBC News

Community Admin 154 Apr 26
Mayor Robert Menard makes a statement on 19 January, 2016 outside the Beziers city hall Image copyright AFP / PASCAL GUYOT
Image caption Robert Menard insists he was stating a fact not encouraging discrimination

A far-right French mayor has been fined 2,000 euros for inciting hatred, after declaring that there were too many Muslim children in his local schools.

Robert Menard, mayor of the southern town of Beziers, is an ally of the anti-immigrant National Front party.

On 1 September 2016, France's first day back at school, he tweeted that he was witnessing the "great replacement".

The divisive term is used to describe the alleged eviction of France's white Christian population by migrants.

On 5 September Menard said on LCI television: "In a class in the city centre of my town, 91% of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this is a problem. There are limits to tolerance."

French law prohibits data based on people's religious beliefs or ethnicity.

Menard defended his comments, saying: "I just described the situation in my town. It is not a value judgement, it's a fact. It's what I can see."

In addition to the fine, a Paris court awarded 1,000 euros (£0.85-£850; $1.1-$1,100) in court costs to anti-racist groups that had brought the case.

The fine was higher than the 1,800 euros called for by the public prosecutor, who said Menard had "pointed the finger at kids, whom he describes as a weight on the national community".

Menard says he will appeal against the ruling.

Image caption Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen must vanquish former economy minister Emmanuel Macron to become president of France

Mr Menard, a fierce critic of immigration, is an independent politician who is supported by the far-right National Front (FN).

FN leader Marine Le Pen is due to face centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round of a presidential election on 7 May.