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A teenager from eastern France, known as Mila, reportedly had to go into hiding amid a wave of death threats over a video that she made and which is said to insult Islam. While many netizens have stood up for the 16-year-old schoolgirl, she has been ignored by feminist and left-wing groups, her lawyer insists.
Richard Malka, a lawyer representing the teenage girl at the centre of the so-called Mila affair, has gone after the “left-wing” and “feminist” elite for their perceived lack of support for her plight. In an interview with The Times, Malka pointed out that although these groups are usually on the lookout for women who face verbal and physical abuse, as well as for secular values, they have ignored his client.
“It is the left that traditionally defends secularism in this country. It saddens me that it has not done so in this case”, he told the British outlet.
The lawyer confirmed that the girl is not going to her former sixth-form college. According to The Times, returning to the school is deemed by the police to be too dangerous for her, while she has not found another that is willing to accept her.
“She has been stuck at home for two weeks without being able to go to school. She is only a teenager and the sky has fallen on her head. No human rights association has protested or expressed solidarity with the girl whose life has suddenly been plunged into hiding”, Malka lamented.
He also took aim at French ministers, accusing them of cowardice in the face of the country’s Muslim citizens and claiming that their inaction is a betrayal of the republic’s values laid down by the champion of free speech, Voltaire.
Commenters online seemingly shared his sentiment.
Come on, France, stand up! Equality and Fraternity are important, but ‘Liberté’ has to mean something. If it’s going to be only a slogan, you’d better remember the original formula: “or death.” But this time it will be the death of France. #Mila #Liberté https://t.co/IEImdkjEAm
— Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) February 1, 2020
As the Daily Mail reports, France’s Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet has already faced backlash after she accused the 16-year-old of breaching “freedom of conscience”, although this is a legal concept that does not exist in French Law. She later apologised, calling her words a “mistake”.
The scandal, which has shaken France and sparked heated debate, broke out in January after the girl said in one of her Instagram stories: “I hate the religion, the Koran is a religion of hate […] Your religion is s**t”.
The clip, which is circulating online, triggered a wave of death threats along with homophobic, racist, and sexist insults, like “Go die in hell, dirty lesbian whore”, “dirty French”, “French s**t”, according to the French media.
The local public prosecutor’s office reportedly opened an investigation, seeking to identify the perpetrators who are sending Mila threats. There were also reports about a probe into whether the teenager had provoked “racial hatred”.
Mila explained in the blog Bellicca, which is considered to be close to the right-wing, that all racism allegations are false.
“I am not racist, not at all. You cannot be racist towards a religion. I said what I thought, you will not make me regret it. There are still people who will get excited, I clearly don’t give a damn, I say what I want, what I think”, she defended herself.
According to her, it all began with an attempt to avoid unwanted flirting from a man, which resulted in insults and threats from other individuals and a further escalation. After one guy called her a dirty lesbian, racist, and the row shifted to religion, she said what she thought about it, the teenager admitted.
Mila’s case has sparked debate in France about the freedom of speech, with some mentioning the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, when journalists were murdered for making a caricature about Islam. Head of the right-wing National Rally party Marine Le Pen, who ran for president, was one of those who brought up the terror attack in connection with the Mila case.
“The words of this young girl are the verbal description of Charlie’s cartoons, no more no less”, she tweeted.