Bardot pays a price for love of animals

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Brigitte Bardot, former screen siren and present champion of animal rights, was fined 10,000 francs yesterday after being convicted of inciting racial hatred.

She was also ordered to pay a symbolic franc to the human rights groups which sued her.

The former actress, who had criticised the Muslim ritual slaughter of sheep, was taken to court a second time after initially being acquitted.

Bardot, 63, was sued for her commentary in the conservative daily Le Figaro in April 1996, in which she criticised the four-day Eid al-Adha spring festival. Married to a member of the National Front, she complained of "foreign overpopulation" and said the slaughter was "torture, signs of the most atrocious pagan sacrifices".

The Movement Against Racism and for Friendship of People (MRAP) said the court ruling "honours justice and dishonours the woman who was the symbol of a certain image of France". There was no immediate comment from Bardot, who avoided the maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of Fr300,000.

Bardot wrote another commentary last April saying that the ritual will "bathe France's earth in blood", and criticised what she said was the transformation of the country into "a Muslim France". Bardot's animal rights foundation calls for ritual slaughter to take place in state-supervised slaughterhouses and for the animals to be stunned before being killed.

On Eid al-Adha, the celebration following the Islamic fast of Ramadan, many of the 3 million Muslims in France sacrifice a lamb in a rite of peace, as God allowed Abraham to do instead of killing his own son.

- Kate Watson-Smyth