A French court cited anti-Semitism when it sanctioned a publishing house for five books, including one first printed more than a century ago.
The court in Bobigny, near Paris, last week banned publication and dissemination of “The Anthology of Quotes against Jews, Judaism and Zionism,” penned by Paul-Eric Blanrue.
The court said the book contained “incitement to racial hatred” and “denials of genocide,” which are both illegal in France. Blanrue’s 321-page book includes “hundreds of anti-Semitic statements by well-known figures throughout the ages,” according to the news agency AFP.
All editions of the book must be rescinded within a month, according to the ruling. On top of that, the court fined Kontre Kulture $10,795 for publishing the book. Alain Soral, a French extreme-right activist who has made anti-Semitic statements in the past, edited it.
The court also ordered the removal of passages from four other books that were also edited by Soral, including Henry Ford’s “The International Jew.”
The fine imposed on the publishing house will be paid to LICRA, a France-based International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism. The group launched the court case against Soral and the publishing agency.
Yves Baudelot, a lawyer specializing in literary rights, said rulings to ban books are rare in France, according to the AFP. The ruling by the court in Bobigny is the first ban of its kind in years.
LICRA called the ruling a victory for justice. However, a number of authors and academics argued that it was an unreasonable encroachment on freedom of expression.
“This ruling is disconcerting and astonishing,” Pierre Glaudes, a professor of literature at the Sorbonne, wrote in an Op-Ed published Thursday by Le Nouvel Observateur, an influential Paris-based weekly.
Glaudes said among the books included in the ruling was “Salut par les Juifs,” written 122 years ago by Leon Bloy. This book, he wrote, “Was re-edited countless times without being struck down by the law–until today.” He added that the ruling was a “dangerous judicial anachronism.”