France’s far-right presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour did not show up to court yesterday, the first day of his trial on charges of inciting racial hatred .
The controversial commentator is being tried on charges of “public insult” and “incitement to hatred or violence” against a group of people due to their ethnic, national, racial or religious origin.
He was previously convicted of hate speech after railing against black and Arab people in 2010 and of incitement to religious hatred for anti-Islam comments in 2016.
The former political talk show guest, whose inflammatory rhetoric has drawn comparisons with Donald Trump, is expected to announce his run for the Elysee soon.
Zemmour often uses his platforms to condemn immigration, Islam and what he says is “political correctness” in French culture.
While he has been surging in the polls, he is still expected to be defeated by president Emmanuel Macron in next April’s election.
Zemmour’s current trial relates to remarks he made last year when he called unaccompanied child migrants “thieves, killers and rapists”.
Zemmour has repeatedly said he wants to ban parents from giving children foreign names.
He has also been tried in several other cases, where he was acquitted.
Last February, a court in Paris acquitted him of a charge of contesting crimes against humanity – illegal in France – for arguing in a 2019 TV debate that Marshal Petain, head of France’s collaborationist regime during World War II, saved France’s Jews from the Holocaust.
The court acquitted Zemmour, saying he had spoken in the heat of the moment.