The runner-up of the Miss France 2021 competition has been subjected to a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse on social media after revealing her Israeli origins, the BBC reports.
April Benayoum, 21, was awarded second place in the pageant during a televised ceremony on Saturday. She later revealed her Israeli origins in an interview at the event, leading to anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter.
The tweets were widely condemned by French politicians and Jewish groups.
France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he was “deeply shocked by the rain of anti-Semitic insults” against Benayoum.
“We must not let anything go,” he wrote in a tweet, adding that police were looking into the abusive tweets.
The organizers of the competition denounced the “hate speech” against Benayoum, saying it was “totally contrary to the values of the channel, the production and the show”.
France’s Minister of Citizenship Marlène Schiappa tweeted that the beauty competition was “not a contest of anti-Semitism”.
In an interview with the Var-Matin newspaper, Benayoum said she heard about the anti-Jewish insults from her relatives.
“It is sad to witness such behavior in 2020. I obviously condemn these comments, but it does not affect me at all,” she said.
Jewish groups condemned the anti-Semitic tweets as well. The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) said the Miss France competition had “turned Twitter into an anti-Semitic cesspool against Miss Provence”.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, wrote a letter to Miss France Competition Director-General, Sylvie Tellier, in which he expressed outrage at the attacks against Benayoum.
“Madam Director-General, we suggest that the Competition’s response – beside a protest to Twitter – should be its adoption of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-Semitism,” wrote Samuels.
“We are ready to assist in bringing this tool – that has been adopted so far by the EU, France, a number of democracies worldwide, international organizations, universities, football clubs and sport federations, municipalities, administrations, private businesses and NGOs – to cleanse the filth that has sullied this Miss France Competition,” he added.
Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in France in recent years. A total of 687 anti-Semitic acts were counted in 2019, compared to 541 the previous year.
The number of anti-Jewish offences reported to police in France surged 74 percent in 2018.
Darmanin recently promised to protect France’s Jewish community from extremists after a double stabbing in Paris blamed on Islamic terrorism.
Source: Arutz Sheva