French Comic Dieudonne Cleared of Hate Speech in Suit Aimed at YouTube

Jewish Students Want Quenelle Creator's Video Pulled


Published June 24, 2014.
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A French court dismissed a hate-speech lawsuit against a comedian who mocked the Holocaust and accused French Prime Minister Manuel Valls of supporting servitude to French Jews.

The Paris Tribunal for Grand Instances delivered its ruling on the lawsuit against Dieudonne M’bala M’bala on June 20, which concerned a video that the comedian posted on YouTube in April, the French broadcaster BFMTV reported.

While “capable of shocking and offending,” the judge wrote, “the video seeks to stigmatize and discredit Manuel Valls and to denounce the privileged status that he allegedly reserved for French Jews,” and “cannot justify severe limitations on freedom of expression.”

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, in which they sought to have YouTube remove the video.

Dieudonne, who has been convicted several times for inciting racial hatred against Jews, began the video by holding up a plastic pineapple in a reference to the phrase he coined: Shoananas. A mashup of the French word for pineapple and the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, he has used the word to deny, minimize or mock the Holocaust without violating French laws against doing so.

Referencing a speech against anti-Semitism by Valls in which Valls mentioned the Holocaust, Dieudonne said: “I swear, I was so moved that I even believed it. I mean, I always believed in the Holocaust, mind you, without knowing it, but right then I was 100 percent there. When I returned home I was so devastated I asked my wife to make me a pineapple, for the calcium and the iron.”

In the speech, Valls also said Jews were the “avant garde of France.”

In the video, Dieudonne said: “We’re not that avant garde. We are tolerated. You are there to serve that avant garde. It’s normal. We need to serve them.”

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