Air France fined in pro-Palestinian activist case

An Air France plane at Nice airport. File photo
Image caption The incident happened at Nice airport in April 2012

A French court has found Air France guilty of discrimination for removing a pro-Palestinian activist from a flight to Israel because she was not Jewish.

The court also ordered the airline to pay 13,000 euros (£11,000; $17,000) in fines and damages.

Horia Ankour had planned to fly to Tel Aviv from Nice to join other activists in a pro-Palestinian campaign.

Air France said she was on a list undesirables provided by Israel. The company said it would appeal.

'Flytilla' campaign

The incident happened during what was dubbed by the media the "flytilla" campaign in April 2012 - when hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists sought to fly to Israel and then make their way to the occupied West Bank.

Shortly before take-off last April, Ms Ankour, a 30-year-old nursing student, was asked by an Air France employee whether she had an Israeli passport or was Jewish.

She answered "No" to both questions, and was then escorted off the plane.

The French court on Thursday concluded this was a clear-cut case of racial discrimination.

In its defence, the French flagship carrier argued that it was only at the last minute that it had realised Ms Ankour was blacklisted by Israel.

The company said it had therefore asked her to leave - in line with an international convention that allowed airlines to refuse transporting passengers who it knew would not be accepted at the point of entry.

It seems the fault in law was for the company to have asked Ms Ankour about her ethnic origins and to have made this the apparent reason for her forced disembarkation, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

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