Everything you need to know about freedom of expression in France

Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. As for freedom of the press, it is enshrined in the law of 1881. But this freedom has limits: racism, anti-Semitism, racial hatred, and justification of terrorism are not opinions. They are offences.
 
As such, these are punishable by law:

 -          Incitement to terrorism, which must be a direct and explicit incitement, not only in its spirit but also in its terms, to commit physically determined acts. Since 2014, it is punishable by 7 years of incarceration when it occurs online. It does not need to be public to be punished.

-          Public justification of terrorism, which consists in presenting or commenting on acts of terrorism while justifying them, praising them, idealising their goals or their methods, or passing a favourable moral judgement. Since 2014 it is also punishable by 7 years of incarceration when it occurs online.
 
The following are also punishable by law:

-         Public provocation to hatred, violence or racial discrimination.

-          Public defamation on the grounds of an actual or assumed membership or non-membership to a specific ethnic group, nation, race or religion.

-          Public slander on the grounds of an actual or assumed membership or non-membership to a specific ethnic group, nation, race or religion.

-          Disputing crimes against humanity.

All speeches, cries or threats made publicly, that is to say by any public means of communication, are punishable. Including on the Internet.

But be aware! Their absence of publicity does not make them less reprehensible. Non-public racial, national or religious provocation, defamation and slander are punishable under the penal code.


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