Roger Cukierman, president of France’s largest Jewish group, was indicted for calling the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala a “professional anti-Semite.”
Cukierman, who heads the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities and organizations, announced the indictment on Monday in a video that appeared on the CRIF website.
“So I am being indicted for having stated on Europe 1 that Dieudonne is a professional anti-Semite. Isn’t that funny? For once, Dieudonne is actually comical,” Cukierman said.
Dieudonne has 10 convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, according to CRIF. He also invented the quenelle salute, which French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said was an inverted Nazi gesture of anti-Semitic hate, and the term “shoananas,” a mashup of the Hebrew word for the Holocaust and the French word for pineapple, which is used to suggest the genocide never happened without explicitly violating France’s laws against doing so.
Earlier this year, Valls, then interior minister, advised mayors to ban Dieudonne’s shows, leading to the show’s cancellation and replacement with another routine which featured less anti-Semitic material.
Indictments are “quasi-automatic” in France when police receive complaints of defamation, according to the L’Express news website.
Responding to the indictment, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Vigilance, or BNVCA, extended its support for Cukierman.
“No one in France knows anti-Semitism better than Roger Cukierman, who survived the Holocaust at the age of nine because nuns hid him while his family was deported to Auschwitz and gassed there,” the Drancy-based watchdog wrote in a statement Tuesday.
Dieudonne and the far-right Holocaust denier Alain Soral recently decided to form a political party, the news site Mediapart.fe reported Tuesday.
Last week, Dieudonne was indicted for fraud, money laundering and abuse of public funds, Le Monde reported. Researchers believe Dieudonne, who declared he had no money to pay fines he received for his hate speech, transferred more than $500,000 to Cameroon while he declared himself to be insolvent.