Ex-film star Bardot gets fifth racism conviction

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - A Paris court fined former film star Brigitte Bardot 15,000 euros ($23,400) on Tuesday for inciting racial hatred by insulting Muslims, her fifth conviction on similar charges in 11 years.

Brigitte Bardot, former French film star, seen in Brussels in this June 9, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Bardot, now an animal rights campaigner, has repeatedly taken aim at the feast of Eid al-Adha during which Muslims ritually slaughter a sheep but she has also criticised other traditions and denounced immigration from Muslim countries.

Her latest conviction was over a 2006 tract on the Eid al-Adha issue in which she described the Muslim community in France as “this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts”.

Prosecutors had recommended a two-month jail sentence in addition to a fine, but the court did not follow the advice. The 73-year-old Bardot, who says she is not fit to travel, was not present when the ruling was handed down.

In addition to the fine, Bardot will have to pay symbolic damages to several anti-racism organisations. The court also said the ruling against her would have to be published in the newsletter of her animal rights foundation.

Bardot’s lawyer, Francois-Xavier Kelidjian, said she was unlikely to appeal because she was tired of trials.

“She gets the impression that they are trying to silence her but she will not be silenced in her defence of the cause of animals,” he said.

She had already been fined four times since 1997 for inciting racial hatred, with the amounts increasing gradually from 1,500 euros to 5,000 euros.

The blonde Bardot, a sex symbol of the 1950s and 60s, was the star of influential films “And God Created Woman” by Roger Vadim in 1956 and “Contempt” by Jean-Luc Godard in 1963.

The young Beatles said they were fans and French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, a former lover, wrote a hit song about her.

But since her retirement from the screen, she has become an increasingly controversial figure whose animal rights campaign has been overshadowed by verbal attacks on gays, immigrants and the unemployed.