French teenager who called Islam 's**t religion' releases book
French teenager who sparked outrage after calling Islam a ‘s**t religion’ releases book defending freedom of speech as the trial into 13 men accused of sending her death threats resumes
- Mila, then 16, made vulgar remarks about Islam in an online video in 2020
- She faced a fierce backlash for saying the Koran is ‘full of hate’ on Instagram
- The teenager, now 18, was allegedly sent death threats, leading to a trial
- She was defended by Emmanuel Macron and is a divisive figure in secular France
The 18-year-old French girl who called Islam a ‘s*** religion’ has written a book defending freedom of speech as the trial into the 13 people accused of viciously harassing her resumes.
The teenager, known only as Mila, sparked outrage with her provocative comments about the religion then aged 16 which led to death threats and Emmanuel Macron speaking out in her defence.
She was placed under police protection with her family and forced to change school following the abuse after she posted a video online saying: ‘The Koran is filled with nothing but hate, Islam is a s****y religion.’
Mila, the 18-year-old French girl who called Islam a ‘s*** religion’, has written a book defending freedom of speech (pictured at court today)
The teenager, known only as Mila, sparked outrage with her provocative comments about the religion then aged 16
But Mila, who has refused to back down over her remarks, now says she craves nothing more than a normal life.
She says she has received more than 100,000 hateful messages and her new book, titled I Am the Price of Your Freedom, continues her provocative message.
She writes: ‘If I get attacked then I am going to defend myself.’
‘We no longer have the right to mock, criticise or insult religions, even when they are intolerant, sexist or homophobic.’
The furore erupted in January 2020, when Mila, then 16, who describes herself as pansexual, meaning she is attracted to people of all genders, was asked if she had a preference for white, Arabic or black people.
She was placed under police protection with her family and forced to change school following the threats
The furore erupted in January 2020, when Mila, then 16, launched into an anti-Islam tirade online
‘I answered simply that Arabic and Black people are not particularly my type and that they do not attract me physically,’ she said.
A boy who had shown interest in her then insulted her ‘in the name of Allah’.
After receiving threats she launched into an anti-Islam tirade, declaring: ‘Islam is s*** (…) Your religion is s***. I put my finger into the a****** of your God. Thank you and goodbye.’
Her outburst triggered a flood of insults, with one person writing: ‘You deserve to have your throat cut.’
She said she was forced to leave school and no other establishment wanted her for security reasons, saying her life became ‘hell’.
To go unnoticed during rare trips outside, she wore a disguise that made her feel like ‘Inspector Gadget’, she said in a recent French television interview.
The mass trial of 13 people over death threats sent to Mila (pictured at court earlier this month) after she called Islam a ‘s**t religion’ has resumed
‘Even when I go outside, I am in prison,’ she said, declaring she just ‘wants to live free’.
Her story goes to the core of the debate over freedom of expression which has raged in secular France since 2015 when Islamist gunmen attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
The controversy intensified further when teacher Samuel Paty – who had shown the caricatures in his civics class – was beheaded by an Islamist radical outside his school in Paris in October 2020.
Mila has been feted by some as a hero of the fight for freedom of expression in France although critics accuse her of needlessly provoking observant Muslims.
On a language study trip to Malta last summer she was threatened with death and rape by a fellow student, who recognised her. He was arrested and convicted on the island.
Mila has been feted by some, especially on the right, as a hero of the fight for freedom of expression in secular France
But in November Mila published a new video, reaffirming her previous tirade.
The 13 being tried in Paris for subjecting her to online harassment, including death threats, are all aged between 18-30. Most have never had any brushes with the law before.
‘She received over 100,000 hate messages and death threats saying she would be tied up, cut up, quartered, stoned, beheaded, accompanied by coffin images, and photo-montages of her bloodied decapitated head,’ her lawyer Richard Malka who also represents Charlie Hebdo, told the court.
When the controversy erupted, the hashtag #JeSuisMila (I am Mila) went viral in solidarity with her, echoing the #JeSuisCharlie slogan around which millions of people rallied following the 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists.
President Emmanuel Macron was among those who defended Mila, saying: ‘The law is clear. We have the right to blaspheme, to criticise and caricature religions’.
Not all echoed such sentiments, however, especially on the left. Asked by French television ‘Are You Mila?’ Socialist ex-president Francois Hollande replied testily: ‘No, I am Francois Hollande’.
Her story goes to the core of the debate over freedom of expression which has raged in secular France since 2015
He added: ‘We have the right to criticise religions. Mila had every right to criticise religion. But, like everyone else, she should not engage in hate speech about those who practice their religion.’
Mila says she finds France now a ‘fragile and cowardly nation’ claiming that the ‘silent majority’ who support her ‘do not do anything’.
‘Even if I have a knife placed under my neck, I won’t stop speaking out,’ she told the TF1 channel. ‘But I am still a young woman who does not know what to think about her future.’
France’s defence of its secular values and a crackdown on religious extremism have stirred fierce protests by many Muslims worldwide, who accuse the country of encouraging insults against their beliefs.
But defence lawyers have argued that the 13 on trial are unfairly taking the rap as scapegoats for thousands of people taking advantage of the anonymity offered by social media platforms.
‘My client is totally overwhelmed by this affair,’ said Gerard Chemla, a lawyer for one of the accused. ‘He had a fairly stupid instant reaction, the type that happens every day on Twitter.’
The accused face up to two years in prison and fines of 30,000 euros ($36,600) for online harassment.
A conviction of death threats carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison – two people previously convicted of death threats against Mila have received prison terms.
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