French court gives Algeria’s Youcef Atal suspended jail sentence for posting hate video

January 4 – Nice’s Algerian international Youcef Atal (pictured), already having served a seven-match ban dished out by French football authorities, has now been handed an eight-month suspended jail term for sharing an anti-Semitic message on social media relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The sentence was handed down by a French court Wednesday for inciting religious hatred and the 27-year-old must also pay a fine of €45,000 for sharing the video by a Palestinian preacher calling for a “black day for the Jews”.

Atal was with the Algerian national team in his home country when he posted the video. He withdrew it the following day when Nice warned him it was likely to attract controversy, offering his apologies.

A preliminary judicial investigation was opened in October and Atal apologised again saying he had wanted to send a “message of peace” and did not watch the entire 35-second video before posting it.

But that argument did not convince prosecutors.

“Sharing a video means being party to its message and lending it visibility,” prosecutor Meggi Choutia told the court. “There is no talk of peace at any moment in these 35 seconds.”

Nice have suspended Atal from playing “until further notice” even though the ban he received from the French league (LFP) has now expired.

He continues to play for his country, however, and is in their squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations. He won the tournament with Algeria in 2019 and on Monday played in a friendly against Egypt in Abu Dhabi.

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