Actress Brigitte Bardot is facing prosecution after making racist comments about the inhabitants of the French island of Reunion, with the highest-ranking official on the French island of Reunion filing a legal suit against the star on Wednesday, March 20.
Bardot made her comments in a letter, which she sent to the prefect of Reunion and local media on Tuesday, March 19. In her writing, the French star described the island's residents as "aboriginals who have kept the genes of savages" and condemned what she referred to as the barbaric treatment of animals by a "degenerate population."
"This letter contains terms that are offensive and racist toward the inhabitants of Reunion," prefect Amaury de Saint-Quentin said in a statement, according to Reuters.
After Bardot's letter was received, several officials stated that they would take legal action as well as anti-racism NGOs Licra and SOS Racisme.
France's Minister of Overseas Territories Annick Girardin said that she would add her name to the complaint filed by Reunion's prefect, noting, "Ordinary racism has no place in the exchange of opinions."
Richard Ferrand, the president of the lower house of parliament in Paris, also expressed "contempt" for Bardot's words.
The Brigitte Bardot Foundation, which was created by Bardot in 1986 and is dedicated to animal protection, said the actress had written the letter as a personal initiative and that it was in no way affiliated with the foundation.
Reunion is a French department in the Indian Ocean known for its volcanoes, rainforests, coral reefs and beaches. The island has a population of almost one million people. Animal rights activists have said that animal abuse is a common occurrence on Reunion and that animal sacrifice is tolerated in some religious ceremonies.
In Bardot's letter, she allegedly discussed Hindu residents of the island "sacrificing goats" and said that residents of the "demonic isle" also displayed cruelty to cats and dogs, according to the Daily Mail.
The letter reportedly read that Hindus who participated in the "Indian Tamil festivals beheaded goats, and then threw their entrails into the sea, attracting sharks," which threatened swimmers. Bardot also reportedly referenced "the cannibalism of past centuries."
Bardot gained fame as an actress in the '50s and '60s but is now better known for her work as an animal rights activist after retiring from acting in 1973.
The 84-year-old has five criminal convictions for inciting hatred and has previously criticized immigration in France and Islam as well as Jewish people for their preparation of kosher food and Muslims for halal slaughter.
Photo Credit: Getty / Thomas Samson