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French Comic, Dieudonné, on Trial for Inciting Racial Hatred

French comedian Dieudonné, who went on trial this week accused of using antisemitic racial insults, claims that the offending section of the performance was only a joke: “l’attentat humouristique” (“humorous attack”). The charge, as previously reported by the Forward, was brought after an incident that took place during Dieudonné’s performance in Le Zenith Theater, Paris, December 22, 2008.

During that show Dieudonné invited academic and Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson to join him onstage. Faurisson was then presented with an award for “social unacceptability and insolence” by an assistant wearing striped pajamas and a yellow star with the note ‘Jew.’

Dieudonné, previously a popular mainstream comic, has achieved more recent notoriety for his increasingly irrational antisemitic and anti-American slander.

He has been repeatedly sued for inciting racial hatred, describing Jews in one newspaper interview as “former slave traders who have turned to banking, show business and, today, terrorist action” through support of Israeli policies.

In front of the tribunal this week, he claimed of the episode with Faurisson, “it was a spectacle, a humorous work, it was a game with the media, I gave them a humorous attack” before adding: “their hysteria on seeing antisemitism in everything seems to me suspicious and obscene…I am the barometer of freedom of expression.”

If found guilty of the charges held against him, Dieudonné could be sentenced to one year in prison or a fine of 10,000 euros. The tribunal will reach its decision by October 27th.

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