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Twitter under fire after suspending account of French teen targeted for Islam comments

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(FILES) In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on August 10, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia
(FILES) In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on August 10, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia   -   Copyright  OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP or licensors
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Twitter briefly suspended on Sunday the Twitter account of Mila, a French teenager who has faced online harassment and death threats since she posted a viral video criticising Islam last year.

The social network initially claimed Mila had violated its harassment rules but Mila's account was eventually reactivated on Monday morning.

"Hey, I'm back!" she tweeted.

The Twitter suspension is the latest controversy surrounding Mila.

The youngster's case captured the attention of French media last year after she posted an anti-Islam video that prompted death threats and an online hate campaign against her, forcing the teenager to drop out of school.

Explaining the context of her suspension, Mila's lawyer Richard Malka told AFP news agency that she was the one who had first received hateful comments after posting a childhood drawing on her Twitter account.

"I had just found old drawings I made when I was a child and had fun posting one on Twitter. It represented a pain au chocolat," Mila told Le Point newspaper.

A few minutes later, she said she found dozens, then hundreds of insulting messages

"I panicked, thinking my account had probably been spammed by fake accounts intended to comment on my post en masse to harm me."

Mila then replied to the insults on her Twitter account, which might have prompted her suspension.

One user who had bragged about being behind Mila's eviction from the social network even received thanks from Twitter, according to screenshots of the exchange that has now been deleted.

Via Twitter
Twitter screenshotVia Twitter

'Twitter punishes victims'

Mila's lawyer Richard Malka slammed the network for punishing victims and rewarding stalkers.

"It is as if you were assaulted in the street and then convicted of assault," Malka said.

He was followed by many Twitter users and organisations who expressed their support to Mila.

"@TwitterFrance, you should be ashamed," tweeted LICRA, an anti-racist NGO.

Euronews reached out to Twitter for comments but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

The US-based company admitted to AFP news agency that it had "made a mistake" and that the suspension decision was "cancelled".

The French government said on Monday that Twitter's decision came "too late".

"The reactivation of @magicalorrs account by @TwitterFrance comes too late: it is a double penalty for #mila, who is constantly harassed. To protect victims online, the regulation of social networks is a priority for the French government," said Cédric O, Deputy Minister for digital transition.

National controversy

Mila's case sparked a national controversy last year after she posted an anti-Islam video on Instagram.

"There is only hatred in the Koran (...) There are still people who are going to get upset, I clearly don't give a damn, I say what I want, what I think," Mila said in the video.

Five people will face trial in June under the count of "moral harassment," with two of them also charged with "death threats" against Mila.

Her lawyer says the youngster still regularly receives death threats.