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French Courts Convict Three For 'Burn the Gays' Hate Tweets

Brûlonslesgayssurdu trendThree were convicted in a Paris court this week on anti-gay hate speech charges for tweeting "#brûlonslesgayssurdu", which approximately translates as, "let's burn the gays" in August 2013. Comité Idaho brought the case to court on grounds of inciting hatred and violence on basis of sexual orientation, and the three offenders have been punished with fines, one for €300 ($336.09) and the other two for €500 ($560.15) each.

There is mixed reaction to the verdict. On the one hand, French LGBT groups are calling it a "significant victory", while other LGBT rights groups consider the punishments to be light given that the maximum penalties for the crimes they committed are up to a year in prison and a €45,000 ($50,413.50) fine.

Regardless, president of Comité Idaho Alexandre Marcel remarked:

It's a small amount to pay for calling for the death of homosexuals.


Former Danish President Reflects On Protecting The Press' Right To Free Speech: WATCH

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Days before the religiously-motivated attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, former Danish President Anders Fogh Rasmussen sat down with Big Thing to reflect on his own struggles dealing with civil unrest sparked by controversial cartoons. In 2005 protests swept through the country after Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, published a number of cartoons that depicted the prophet Mohammed. Despite calls for the Danish government to step in and mitigate tensions within the country, Rasmussen and his cabinet elected not to become directly involved.

Though Rasmussen describes that time as “Denmark's worst international relations incident since the Second World War,” he still stands by his decision not to bend to the public’s will. In remaining uninvolved, he said, he was defending the Danish press’s right to free speech.

Similar sentiment has echoed through the French press as Charlie Hebdo prepares to release its largest print run in the publication’s history. Soon after the shooting, an outpouring of financial support to the newspaper came from across the globe, enabling the surviving editorial staff to publish some 1 million copies of this week’s forthcoming issue. Since announcing its intentions, Charlie Hebdo has upped its projected publication numbers to 3 million copies to be printed in 16 languages, including Arabic, and distributed throughout 18 countries.

"There is a future. But we don't know yet what it will resemble. There will be a newspaper," said Hebdo’s sitting editor-in-chief Gerard Briard. "For the time being we can't tell you anymore because we don't know ourselves."

Listen to former Danish President Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s reflections on dealing defending the press AFTER THE JUMP...

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Thousands Break Into John Lennon's 'Imagine' At Paris Unity Rally: WATCH

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At a unity rally in Paris held to show national solidarity in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France, thousands burst into singing John Lennon's "Imagine", Mashable reports:

[Redditor] ilHGG, who claims to live near the location of the march, wrote on Reddit that he or she played music, "especially peace songs," from his or her window, so passersby participating in the march could hear.

The poster of the video on YouTube commented,

"As no one could advance, my neighbor opened her windows and started to play classic tunes, to the delight of the audience. A great moment."

The rally in Paris combine with those held across France drew crowds of 3.7 million people, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, President Obama came under criticism for not attending the rally which saw a broad swath of world leaders in attendance including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. As The Washington Post reports, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented, “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile." The U.S. was represented at the rally by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said of the President's absence, 

“I understand that when the president travels, he brings with him a security and communications package which is intense. And I understand you drop that into the middle of something like this, it could be disruptive,” Rubio said. “There’s a plethora of people they could have sent. I think in hindsight I hope that they would have done it differently.”

For his part, Secretary of State John Kerry called the hullabaloo surrounding the President's absence, "quibbling a little bit." 

In Paris, however, President Obama's absence was hardly felt, with many dubious of the presence of foreign leaders to begin with:

“I consider these heads of state to be taking part in my march,” said Thierry, a 56-year-old painter, who declined to give his last name because of fears of terrorism. “I’m not taking part in theirs.”

Watch the video of the attendees singing "Imagine", AFTER THE JUMP...

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World Leaders Gather in France for Massive 'Unity Rally' In Response to Terrorist Attacks: VIDEO

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World leaders joined hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Paris today in a "unity rally" in response to the terrorist spree that has taken place across France over the past week. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British PM David Cameron, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and others were in attendance. 

The U.S. was represented by the Jane Hartley, the ambassador to France. 

CNN reports:

French President Francois Hollande was joined by other heads of state and dignitaries -- several who linked arms.

At the very front of the march was Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris and president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

French officials announced "exceptional measures" to protect not only the throngs expected to gather near the Place de la Republique in central Paris, but also a veritable who's who of foreign leaders -- a test of the security forces of a nation rocked by days of terrorist violence.

Watch live footage of the rally as well as video of the world leaders marching together, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Dual Hostage Dramas Unfold As Police Close in On Suspected Charlie Hebdo Gunmen: VIDEO

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UPDATE: Cherif and Said Kouachi, the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, have been killed in by security forces, Otis Mayor Bernard Corneille said. 

The New York Times reports:

French police on Friday killed the two brothers suspected of murdering 12 people at a Paris newspaper on Wednesday and freed his hostage unharmed, the authorities said. The police launched a simultaneous raid on a kosher supermarket in Paris where an alleged associate of the brothers was holding an unnamed number of hostages. At least some of hostages escaped unharmed, according to the police.

More here. Originial story below. 

France is once again on high alert this morning as two standoffs with gunmen are underway in and around Paris. CNN reports that authorities have not said if and how the situations are related, but one involves the two brothers wanted in the Charlie Hebdo massacre that claimed the lives of 12 people (10 journalists and two police officers) Wednesday. 

The Washington Post reports:

KouachiIn Dammartin-en-Goele, about 25 miles northeast of Paris, thousands of antiterrorism forces encircled a commercial building, where the armed pair suspected in the newspaper massacre was holed up with at least one hostage.

The standoff unfolded with authorities mobilizing commando-style units capable of storming the single-story printing business.

But negotiators also reached out to the brothers, who are believed armed and possibly preparing for a last-stand siege.

Reunters reports on the second hostage crisis:

A police source said several people were taken hostage at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris after a shootout involving a man armed with two guns.

The source said he bore a resemblance to the gunman suspected of killing a policewoman in a separate shooting in southern Paris on Thursday and believed to be a member of the same jihadist group, Butte Chaumont, as the two Hebdo suspects.

Police released pictures of a 32-year-old man, Amedy Coulibaly, and a 26-year-old woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, wanted in connection with the southern Paris incident.

CNN adds that French President Francoise Hollande held a crisis meeting Friday afternoon with senior Cabinet members at the Elysee palace in Paris.

Watch Sky News' live coverage of the developing story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Dual Hostage Dramas Unfold As Police Close in On Suspected Charlie Hebdo Gunmen: VIDEO" »


Google Fund Gears Up To Support Charlie Hebdo's Largest Print Run

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The Google-backed Fund for Digital Innovation is teaming up with with a number of French newspapers in preparation for the largest print run of Charlie Hebdo. Typically Charlie Hebdo has a circulation of about 60,000, but next week the surviving staff of the satirical French magazine will print and distribute 1 million copies of the upcoming issue. The decision for the expanded run comes days after eight staff members and were killed by extremists in an act of terrorism.

Four other victims were also killed in the attack that took place near the magazine’s headquarters. The deaths quickly sparked outcry across the globe in the form of physical protests and digital gathering around the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie. The upcoming issue will feature contributions from journaliss from across Europe. The Fund for Digital Innovation has pledged €250,000 ($300,000), a number French newspapers have agreed to match, in order to assist with the unprecedented release.

"It's very hard. We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but we will do it anyway because stupidity will not win," Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux told Agence France Presse"Stupidity will not win."

 


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