French comic faces retrial for anti-Jewish jibes

16th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - France's highest court of appeal on Tuesday ordered that comedian Dieudonne be retried on charges of racial defamation and inciting racial hatred after making anti-Jewish comments, striking down his acquittal.

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - France's highest court of appeal on Tuesday ordered that comedian Dieudonne be retried on charges of racial defamation and inciting racial hatred after making anti-Jewish comments, striking down his acquittal.

In a November 2003 interview with Lyon Capitale magazine, Dieudonne said: "Jews are part of a sect, it's a fraud. It's one of the worst sects, because it was the first one."

The atheist comedian, whose full name is Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, added: "Racism was invented by Abraham.

'The chosen people' - that's the start of racism."

Dieudonne was acquitted both by a lower court and the Paris appeals court, which said that while the comedian's use of the words "sect" and "fraud" were "strong and shocking", they should be taken in context of the entire interview.

But on Tuesday, the Cour de Cassation struck down that ruling, saying: "The remarks in dispute notably called into question the Jewish community."

The Cour de Cassation's ruling means that Dieudonne - who has repeatedly denied that he is anti-Semitic, but merely a critic of Israeli policies - will face a new trial in the Paris appeals court.

Dieudonne, born to a French mother and a Cameroonian father, has riled France's 600,000-strong Jewish community - the largest in Europe - on several occasions with his comments.

He sparked outrage in December 2003 when he performed a sketch on national television in which he dressed up as an Orthodox Jew, gave the Nazi salute and jokingly urged French youths to "join the Axis of Good: the American-Zionist Axis".

He was subsequently forced to cancel a number of stand-up shows, but was cleared of racism charges.

Last year he was fined EUR 5,000 (USD 6,600) by a court in Avignon for remarks made about Jews in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

He could face further legal action after allegedly referring to ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camps as "memorial pornography".

Dieudonne later filed a counter-complaint, saying he never made the comment.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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