By Leslie Horn September 15, 2011 09:48am EST
In France, Apple has dealt with yet another App Store controversy. The company has removed an app called “Jew or not Jew” which identifies whether or not French politicians and celebrities are Jewish.
Various activist groups in France objected to the app, saying it violated a French law which outlaws the identification of an individual’s religion without their consent or the compiling of information about people’s religious beliefs.
“The app violates local law and is no longer available in the app store in France,” Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr said.
Though Apple booted the app from the French App Store, it’s still live in the U.S. and other countries. The Wall Street Journal noted that “while the U.S. has laws regulating hate speech, it doesn’t have anything approaching France’s laws disclosing and compiling religious affiliations.”
French organizations including anti-racism group SOS Racisme, Jewish student union Crif, and French Jewish group Crif requested that Apple pull the app.
The app was created by Franco-British developer Johann Levy, who is Jewish himself. Levy claimed he designed the app to be “recreational.”
“I’m not a spokesman for all Jews, but as a Jew myself I know that in our community we often as ask whether a such-and-such celebrity is Jewish or not,” Levy said in an interview with French newspaperLe Parisien. “For me, there’s nothing pejorative about saying that someone is Jewish or not. On the contrary it’s about being proud.”
However, Crif president Richard Prasquier argued that others might not use the app in such an innocuous way.
“The fact is that this [app] could be used by others, whose intentions are not as good,” he said. “It is unacceptable and stigmatizes the Jewish people.”
Apple has removed a handful of rabble-rousing apps from the App Store in the past year, including one that was anti-Israel and another so-called “gay cure” app.