Immigration activist fined for insulting Sarkozy
PARIS, February 15, 2008 – A French anarchist and immigration campaigner was fined 800 euros (1,170 dollars) on Thursday for comparing President Nicolas Sarkozy's policies as interior minister to France's pro-Nazi wartime regime.
Romain Dunant, 35, belongs to the Education Without Borders Network (RESF) which campaigns against the practice of deporting illegal immigrants regardless of whether they have children raised in France, and the CNT anarchist group.
In an email sent to Sarkozy's ministry in 2006 to demand the release of a fellow activist detained for opposing the deportation of a pupil's parents, Dunant attacked his policies as “racist”, offering him his “anti-fascist salutations”.
“So this is Vichy coming back. Petain had forgotten his dogs,” Dunant
wrote, in a reference to France's collaborationist regime and its leader Marshal Philippe Petain.
A Paris criminal court found him guilty of insulting Sarkozy, who was a civil plaintiff in the case, ordering him to pay the president a symbolic euro in damages in addition to the fine.
Prosecutors had argued that the activist overstepped the “limits” of
freedom of expression.
Dubant said he stood by his message, arguing that the policy of deporting illegal immigrants bore similarities to the wartime deporation of the Jews.
As interior minister in the previous right-wing government, Sarkozy oversaw a tightening of immigration rules, setting an annual deportation quota of 25,000 illegal immigrants — a policy pursued under his presidency and fiercely contested by the left-wing opposition.