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Tar Heel Pundits
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Thursday, August 01, 2002

Are the French about to surrender to Egypt?

A French court has issued a summons for Egyptian Ibrahim Nafie, an government-appointed editor of the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram. At issue was an article the paper published nearly two years ago which repeated centuries-old anti-Semitic myths that Jews use Christian blood in their rites. 1,100 copies of the paper with the article were distributed in France, and prosecutors pursued charges under a French law which prohibits "incitement of hatred and anti-Semitic violence."

While the conduct of the newspaper editors publishing this is reprehensible, there are a couple of problems with a French court ordering an Egyptian to appear based on charges he is an anti-Semitic. First, the French court in all likelihood has no jurisdiction over Nafie. He is an Egyptian citizen, governed by Egyptian laws, and it is doubtful that the Egyptian government would enforce a French court decision against him. This is reminiscent of the Yahoo case, where a French court ordered Yahoo, an American corporation, to shut down or somehow prevent French citizens from accessing Nazi paraphernalia in its auction site. An American court refused to enforce the French court's decision because what Yahoo did was not a crime in America.

Second, it is hard to believe that the French are combating anti-Semitism in Egypt while there are synagogue burnings and enough anti-Semitism to go around in France. Their resources would be better spent if the courts first tried to root out anti-Semitism at home before they go after Egyptian newspaper editors.

posted by John Branch @ 2:37 PM

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