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French internet providers ordered to block access to racist website

media Paris courthouse in a file photo from July 2018. Photo: Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP

Nine French telecoms operators were ordered by a Paris court to block access within French territory to a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic website called Démocratie participative. Operators such as Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free have 15 days to comply with the ruling.

“Measures blocking a site may be announced when public order is threatened,” said the ruling delivered on Tuesday, according to 20 Minutes.

The content on the site Démocratie participative was described as “words of extreme violence which at the same time urge violent acts against people because of religion, race or sexual orientation”.

The case to block the site was brought by 10 different organisations fighting racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. The costs of blocking the site will be picked up by the French state.

“It’s a very good decision,” Ilana Soskin, a lawyer for Licra (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism), told the Reuters news agency. “It sends a strong signal that we can’t have a website dedicated to racism and anti-Semitism.”

Soskin also pointed to the permanent nature of the website “filtering” which is definitive.

SOS Racisme welcomes this measure which enables us to stop the torrent of hate pouring from this site,” lawyer Patrick Klugman of another French anti-racism association, told Reuters.

All previous efforts to close the site had been unsuccessful with it proving impossible to find the website hosting service and administrators.

The website remained available to French internet users at the time of writing on Wednesday afternoon.

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