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Racism and Anti-Semitism

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Racism and anti-Semitism are still expressed in the streets, on the walls of places of worship, on social networks and in discussion forums. For too many people, this translates into insults, threats, physical aggressions and discriminations. We must be a reminder that racism is not an opinion but an offence!

The University of Orleans is engaged in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. In this regard, it rolls out information, prevention and raising-awareness actions throughout the university year.


Racism Is Not Freedom of Expression

Freedoms of opinion and expression and fundamental rights are guaranteed during research and teaching activities as well as during student life. Freedom of expression is however subject to limitations: it is not absolute, and cannot justify racist or anti-Semitic words or actions. Law applies everywhere, including in higher education and plainly represses words and behaviours of a racist or anti-Semitic nature. This includes actions made under the pretext of “humour” or “traditions”.

There is no justification for degrading and humiliating, racist or anti-Semitic acts to be inflicted on students under group pressure. There is no such thing as friendly ragging or acceptable group pressure, only offences.


Offences of a Racist nature and Incurred Penalties

The law defines different types of racist criminal offences coupled with specific penalties: racist slur, racist slander, incitement to racial hatred and discriminatory harassment among others.

Racist remarks are punished more severely if they are made in public, i.e. when they can be heard or read by an audience other than the speaker or the victim (in the media, during a meeting or a public demonstration, on a poster, on a social network, online, etc.). 

Racist Slur

A slur or insult is an abusive or contemptuous term that causes harm to the honour or consideration of the one it was intended for. When a slur is public, its author incurs a 1-year imprisonment penalty and a 45,000 € fine (articles 29 paragraph 2 and 33 paragraph 3 of the law of 29 July 1881).

Example: A teacher-researcher is called a “dirty Arab” in a corridor of the University.

Racist Slander

Slander or defamation uses false information to stigmatize and cause harm to the honour of a individual or a group. When a slander is public, its author incurs a 1-year imprisonment penalty and/or a 45,000 € fine (articles 29 paragraph 1 and 32 paragraph 2 of the law of 29 July 1881).

Example: While returning papers to students, a teacher says, “student X is African. He is not used to working, he has obviously plagiarised this text”. 

Incitement to Racial Hatred

Incitement to racial hatred is when the author tries to instil a desire for violence in third parties in order to encourage racist actions (discrimination, violence). When made in public, its author incurs a 5-year imprisonment penalty and/or a 45,000 € fine, as well as additional penalties (article 24 paragraphs 6 and 8 of the law of 29 July 1881).

Example: Tags saying “white Europe” and “Niggers get out” are discovered on the walls of a University.

When not in public, incitement to racial hatred is punished by a 1,500 € fine at most.

Clarification: Neither the fact of criticizing a religion nor “blasphemy” are considered offences. Higher education guarantees freedom of thought.

Racist and anti-Semitic remarks are also sued when they take the form of a vindication of war crimes, crimes against humanity or when they deny the existence of such crimes (Gayssot law of 13 July 1990). Their author incurs a 1-year imprisonment penalty and a 45,000 € fine.

Example: During a sports event, students brandish a banner saying “Dachau must go on!” and sing “One, two, Third Reich!”

Discriminatory Harassment

Article 1 of the law of 27 May 2008 prohibits “all acts related to one of the grounds mentioned [in particular the affiliation, real or alleged, to an ethnic group, a race or a religion] endured by someone, and whose aim or result is to cause harm to their dignity or to create a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.

Example: Mrs. A., administrative secretary, is regularly the victim of racist remarks by two of her colleagues, to the point that her doctor puts her on sick leave. Here, Mrs. A. is a victim of discriminatory harassment based on her origins.

Law Also Applies on Social Networks

The user of a Facebook or Twitter account, or any other social network, is responsible what they post. Even if the user is not the author of the publication, and they only “repost” or “retweet” offensive messages, they become responsible and can be prosecuted in the same way as the original author.



Public racist slur

Art. 33 par. 3 L. 1881 6 months and 22,500€

Non public racist slur

Art. R.624-4 Penal code 750€

Public racist slander

Art. 32 par.2 L. 1881 1 year and 45,000€

Non public racist slander

Art. R. 625-8 Penal code 750€

Public racial incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence

Art. 24 par. 7 L. 1881 1 year and 45,000€

Non public racial incitement

Art. R.625-7 Penal code 1,500€

Vindication of crimes against humanity

Art. 24 par. 5 L 1881 5 years and 45,000€

Historical negationism

Art. 24 Bis L 1881 5 years and 45,000€

Incitement to hatred or violence during a sports event

Art. L.332-6 Sports code 1 year and 15,000€

Racist discrimination

Art. 225-1 and 225-2 Penal code 3 years and 45,000€

Racist theft

Art. 311-4 9° Penal code 3 years and 75,000€

Racist extorsion

Art. 312-2 3° Penal code 10 years and 150,000€

Racist threats

Art. 222-18-1 Penal code 5 years and 75,000€

Racist violence that lead to a temporary incapacity to work of more than 8 days

Art. 222-12 5° bis Penal code 5 years and 75,000€

Racist violence that lead to a temporary incapacity to work of less than 8 days

Art. 222-13 5° bis Penal code 3 years and 45,000€


Inform, Raise Awareness and Prevent



The UO rolls out actions to fight against racism and anti-Semitism throughout the university year. These actions are also gathered around March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racist Discrimination, and the National Day for Fighting against Racism and Anti-Semitism for the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

The UO, in partnership with the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), works on information, prevention and raising-awareness actions.



Any member of the university community, whether it be a witness or a victim of racism or anti-Semitism, can contact the Equality Vice-President at: 


Contact the Defender of Rights

Whether you are a victim or a witness, the Defender of Rights is here to listen to you and help you act against discriminations. The Defender of Rights' teams can also support you or guide you in case of violence or hateful remarks.

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