Anti-Semitic tweets target Miss France finalist
The finalist of the Miss France 2021 competition was the subject of a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse on social networks, promoting outrage and a police investigation.
April Benayoum, 21, took second place in the competition in a televised ceremony on Saturday.
She revealed her Israeli origins in an interview at the event, leading to anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter.
The tweets have been widely condemned by French politicians and Jewish groups.
In an interview with the Var-Matin newspaper, Ms. Benayoum said she had heard of anti-Jewish insults from her relatives.
“It is sad to witness such behavior in 2020,” said Ms. Benayoum, who represented the south-eastern region of Provence at the competition. “I obviously condemn these words, but it does not affect me at all. "
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he was "deeply shocked by the rain of anti-Semitic insults" against Ms. Benayoum. "We must not let go," he wrote in a tweet, adding that the police were looking into abusive tweets.
The organizers of the contest denounced the "hate speech" against Ms. Benayoum, saying it was "totally contrary to the values of the channel, the production and the show".
Miss France 2021 was celebrated as the centenary edition of the competition, founded in 1920 by journalist Maurice de Waleffe.
Amandine Petit, or Miss Normandy, was crowned this year's winner, beating a field of 29 contestants to win a cash prize, use of a Paris apartment, and a monthly salary for a year. She told BFM TV that the "inappropriate remarks" were "extremely disappointing" to watch.
Politicians have also expressed their solidarity. Citizenship Minister Marlène Schiappa tweeted that the beauty pageant was "not an anti-Semitism contest".
Renaud Muselier, a former French member of the European Parliament from the Provence region, called the attacks "an abomination". He stressed that Ms. Benayoum was "French, of Italian and Israeli origin, from Provence, from the south", which means that she "perfectly represents our region and our country".
There was also a strong reaction from Jewish groups. The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) said the Miss France pageant had "turned Twitter into an anti-Semitic cesspool against Miss Provence".
France, which has Europe's largest Jewish population of around half a million, has witnessed a number of anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. The French government has faced pressure to respond to violence and harassment from Jews in the country.
A survey conducted in EU countries in 2018 found that 95% of French Jews consider anti-Semitism a fairly or very important problem. In the same year, former French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said there had been a 69% increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
This article appeared first on: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55389153