One of the “yellow vest” protesters who assailed the French Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielraut with antisemitic abuse on a Paris street last weekend will go on trial on May 22, French news outlets reported on Friday.
The accused man will go on trial before the Paris Criminal Court charged with using hate speech. He faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
A number of French media outlets assembled profiles of the accused man, who was originally seen in amateur video alongside other demonstrators associated with the populist “yellow vest” movement in Paris this past Saturday. Spotting Finkielkraut in the street near his apartment in the Montparnasse district, the man — named as “Benjamin” by L’Express — bellowed insults and slogans at the philosopher including, “Zionist sh*t,” and, “France is ours.”
“Benjamin” is described as 36-year-old telephone salesman who is married with five kids. According to L’Express, during questioning by French police earlier this week, “Benjamin” allegedly said that he had been angered by comments Finkielkraut had made about “the Palestinians” and the “kids of Gaza.”
Le Figaro quoted an official from the Association of Palestinians in France saying that “Benjamin” had traveled with the a delegation of the group to southern Lebanon in 2014. One source described “Benjamin” as someone who associated with radical Islamists, but was not fully radicalized himself. “Benjamin’s” previous brushes with the law include a 2004 conviction for a violent assault on a police officer.
The verbal assault on Finkielkraut was one of several high-profile antisemitic incidents in France this month. On Tuesday night, thousands of people demonstrated in Paris and other cities against the continuing wave of antisemitism.
Government statistics for 2018 showed a 74 percent increase in antisemitic outrages in France.
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