French journalist stripped of award over Israel comments

She shared a controversial post comparing Israel's bombardment of Gaza to the Holocaust

By AFP

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Razan Ashram holds her husband's shoes, who was killed in an Israeli raid. Photo: Reuters
Razan Ashram holds her husband's shoes, who was killed in an Israeli raid. Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 7:10 PM

The Paris region has stripped a French journalist and anti-Islamism activist of an award after she shared a controversial post comparing Israel's bombardment of Gaza to the Holocaust.

Zineb El Rhazoui was in 2019 awarded the Simone Veil prize, named after the French Holocaust survivor and trailblazing feminist politician, for her work "defending secularism, fighting against all forms of obscurantism and for equality between women and men".

The Moroccan-born writer and television commentator on Saturday reposted a statement on X, formerly Twitter, appearing to accuse Israel of "genocide" and describing its policies against Palestinians as similar to those of the Nazis against Jews during World War II.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas carried out the deadliest-ever attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, and taking about 240 hostages back to Gaza.

Israel has responded with a relentless military offensive that has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed at least 17,997 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

United Nations experts last month warned of a "genocide in the making" in the besieged and occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel and Palestinians have traded accusations of "genocide" at the United Nations.

Simone Veil's grandson, Aurelien Veil, in a reply to Rhazoui's retweet said he was concerned that it was contributing to "the trivialisation of the genocide committed by the Nazis" and called on the Paris region to act.

Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region, on Sunday said it was taking back her award for her "fight against Islamism" because the comments she shared on X had "terribly hurt" French people who had lived through the Holocaust.

"Her recent statements... including her retweet of a parallel drawn between Auschwitz and the Israeli retaliation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, are outrageous and shocking," Pecresse said.

Rhazoui on X replied that she believed that to honour Veil's memory was "to rise up against ALL civilian deaths, whatever their nationality or religion".

"By denouncing both the mass crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, as well as the crimes of Hamas against Israeli civilians, I am more than ever honouring Simone Veil's legacy," she wrote.

There was controversy over her receiving the Simone Veil award in 2019 after she appeared to call for a firmer police response, including "live bullets", to unrest outside Paris.

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