French comic Dieudonne jailed for two months for anti-Semitism
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French comic Dieudonne jailed for two months for anti-Semitism

A Belgian court finds controversial comedian guilty of hate speech, incitement to hatred and Holocaust denial

Controversial comic Dieudonne M'bala M'bala arriving at a Paris courthouse,  March 12, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE)
Controversial comic Dieudonne M'bala M'bala arriving at a Paris courthouse, March 12, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE)

BRUSSELS — A Belgian court sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonne Wednesday to two months in jail for incitement to hatred over alleged racist and anti-Semitic comments he made during a show in Belgium, a lawyer said.

Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has faced similar court cases in France, was also fined 9,000 euros ($9,500) by the court in the eastern city of Liege, said Eric Lemmens, a lawyer for Belgium’s Jewish organisations.

He was not in court for the verdict.

The judgment “says that all the accusations against Dieudonne were established — both incitement to hatred and hate speech but also Holocaust denial” relating to a show in Liege in 2012, Lemmens told AFP.

“For me this is more than satisfying, this is a major victory,” he said.

Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Dieudonne in a separate case, deciding that freedom of speech did not protect “racist and anti-Semitic performances.”

Dieudonne was protesting a fine he received from a French court in 2009 for inviting a Holocaust-denier on stage. He was fined 10,000 euros ($11,000) for what that court referred to as “racist insults.”

In March, a French court also handed Dieudonne a two months suspended sentence and fined him heavily for anti-Semitic remarks after he caused uproar by suggesting he sympathized with the attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

“I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” he wrote on Facebook, a play on the slogan “Je suis Charlie” that became a global rallying cry against extremism and Amedy Coulibaly, one of the attackers.

The performer, who made his name in a double act with Jewish comedian Elie Semoun, is infamous for his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

French courts have hauled him up over a string of comments which opponents say are bluntly racist while supporters champion his right to free speech.

Dieudonne, who can appeal the decision, was not immediately reachable for comment.

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