Paris prosecutor’s office opens investigation to identify perpetrators of second-place online anti-Semitic comments for Miss France 2021
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin strongly condemned the comments, saying he was “deeply shocked by the rain of anti-Semitic insults” and that police had been mobilized to investigate.
Benayoum, who won Miss Provence before competing nationally, was born to a Serbo-Croatian mother and an Israeli father. Responding to online comments, she told the French regional newspaper Var-Matin: “It is sad to see such behavior in 2020.” She said she also received numerous messages of support.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into allegations of public racist insults and incitement to racial hatred. French Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa said the investigation “is a strong message” to victims of such abuse and said the online hate speech “is not harmless”.
Benayoum and anti-racist groups have also filed lawsuits. The Council of Representative Jewish Institutions in France, or CRIF, called on Twitter to “take responsibility,” saying social media moderators took too long to remove offensive comments. CRIF said it had asked Twitter for more information on how it handled the case.
The organizers of the contest condemned the abuse, saying it was “totally contrary to the values of the channel, production and show.”
The contestant crowned Miss France, Amandine Petit, told BFM TV that the comments are “inappropriate” and “extremely disappointing”.
The Jewish Students’ Union of France said that “Miss France 2021 is no longer a beauty pageant, it is an anti-Semitism pageant.”
Other groups have noted that anti-Semitic comments are common online, but usually go unpunished.
Angela Charlton contributed.