acquitted on appeal for defamation of Muslim school

acquitted on appeal for defamation of Muslim school

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was acquitted on appeal, Tuesday April 23 in Grenoble, of a first-instance conviction for defamation against a Muslim school in Valencia after an article associating it with the Muslim Brotherhood. The complainant immediately indicated that it would appeal to the Court of Cassation.

In a ruling of which AFP obtained a copy, the Grenoble Court of Appeal overturned a judgment handed down on December 21 which sentenced Charlie Hebdo to a suspended fine of €3,000 and to pay €3,000 in damages to the Values ​​and Success association, which runs a non-contract Muslim school in Valence.

Published in July 2022, an article published in the weekly mentioned links between Values ​​and Success and the Islamist brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood. It had sparked controversy and led, according to the association, to the cancellation in October 2022 of the sale of a plot of land of 8,400 m2, although voted by the city in June, after an intervention by the prefecture.

“None of the comments made are defamatory”

The private primary school, which accommodates around forty students, is currently housed within the grounds of the great mosque of Valencia. It intended to use this land to expand its premises and enter into a contract with the State.

Unlike the court of first instance, the Grenoble Court of Appeal considers that“none of the comments pursued are defamatory”. “The attribution of proximity between the school and the Muslim Brotherhood (…) is a matter of free debate of ideas” and a “infinitely subjective value judgment” from Charlie Hebdo, “unlikely to constitute defamation, bearing in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood network is not banned in France”she judges.

The president of Values ​​and Success, Mourad Jabri, told AFP that he was going to appeal to the Court of Cassation. According to him, the Court of Appeal, by considering that the comments were not defamatory, did not rule on the merits, or on the veracity of the Charlie Hebdo article.

“That doesn’t take anything away from the false statements”, he added. The Muslim Brotherhood is certainly not banned but the “discredit is great” when we are accused of being close to it, declared Mourad Jabri. The newspaper's lawyer, Richard Malka, for his part, expressed his “relief that the law has returned to normal”.

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