French screen legend turned animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was on Thursday fined 20,000 euros (£17,000) by a court on France‘s Indian Ocean island of La Reunion over a 2019 diatribe where she described its inhabitants as ‘savages’.
Bardot, 87, launched the rambling attack against the inhabitants of La Reunion, one of France’s overseas territories spread across the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean, in response to what she saw as their mistreatment of animals.
Her spokesman Bruno Jacquelin was also fined by the court in the main town of Saint-Denis de la Reunion 4,000 euros (£3,400) for his role in sending the statement to several media outlets at her request.
‘The natives have kept their savage genes,’ the animal rights campaigner wrote in an open letter attacking the islanders for their treatment of animals, describing locals as ‘degenerate savages’.
She took aim at the island’s Hindu Tamil population for sacrificing goats, evoking the ‘cannibalism of past centuries’ as she lashed ‘a degenerate population still soaked in barbarous ancestral traditions’.
Bardot, who shot to fame in the 1956 film ‘…And God Created Woman’, has become a controversial figure, and has also been convicted in the past over her comments about Muslims.
France’s then overseas territories minister Annick Girardin told her in a letter at the time after her comments on Le Reunion ‘that racism is not an opinion, it’s an offence’.
Didier Robert, President of the Reunion region, previously described Bardot as ‘irresponsible, outrageous and contemptuous’.
He said her letter contained deeply racist terms that were ‘absolutely unacceptable’.
During previous court appearances in France, Miss Bardot has also received substantial fines and been forced to apologise for her bigotry.
Bardot is a close friend of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the FN, who has been convicted for anti-Semitism, racism and Holocaust denial. His daughter, Marine Le Pen, now runs the party.
Bardot quit the movie industry in 1973 and now runs an animal sanctuary in the French Riviera resort of St Tropez, where she first shot to stardom in the 1950s.
Animal rights activists say abuse of animals is common on the island and that animal sacrifice is tolerated in some religious ceremonies.
Reunion, which is 6000 miles from Paris, is one of five overseas departments and regions of France.
It is a favoured holiday destination of thousands from Europe.
The island, east of Madagascar, has also made headlines in recent years for a spate of fatal shark attacks.