French teens charged over threats to girl who posted anti-Islam rant on Instagram

Three teens were charged on June 17, 2020 after a schoolgirl received death threats for posting an anti-Islam rant on Instagram.
Three teens were charged on June 17, 2020 after a schoolgirl received death threats for posting an anti-Islam rant on Instagram. © AFP file photo

Three teenagers have been charged in France after a high-school girl received death threats for an expletive-laden social media rant against Islam, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

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The case of 16-year-old Mila -- who called Islam "a shitty religion" on an Instagram post that went viral -- revived debate in France about freedom of speech and highlighted deep societal divisions on the topic.

Mila's family was placed under police protection amid the fallout, and the girl had to change schools.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Audrey Quey, said three teens -- one aged 16 and two 17, have been charged in the case.

Quey is the prosecutor in Vienne in the Isere department in southeast France where Mila is from.

The 17-year-olds admitted to investigators earlier this month that they had collected Mila's private online data and passed it on to the younger boy.

The two face charges of theft and possession of stolen data, and were placed under judicial supervision pending the outcome of the investigation, Quey said in a statement.

One of them was also from Isere, and the other from the neighbouring Rhone department.

The 16-year-old, Quey said, was questioned in February and admitted having distributed Mila's personal online data.

Charges against the boy, from Besancon north of Isere, include possession of stolen goods, electronic harassment, and distributing a third party's personal data. He, too, was placed under supervision.

A fourth person, alleged to have been behind death threats to Mila, was arrested in May, the prosecutor said.

"Investigations are continuing with a view to identifying others behind the threats," said Quey.

In February, French President Emmanuel Macron came out in defence of Mila, saying the right to blaspheme was enshrined in the constitution and that the girl needed to be protected.

An investigation into possible charges of provoking racial hatred against Mila was abandoned in January.

The controversy came just over five years after jihadist gunmen gunned down a group of French cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had poked fun at the Prophet Mohammed.

(AFP)

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