Belgian court upholds jail term for anti-Semitic comedian
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Belgian court upholds jail term for anti-Semitic comedian

French comedian Dieudonne sentenced to two months in racism trial, but probably won’t serve due to prison overcrowding

French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala gesturing to the media as he leaves a Paris court house, February 4, 2015. (Michel Euler/AP Images/via JTA
French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala gesturing to the media as he leaves a Paris court house, February 4, 2015. (Michel Euler/AP Images/via JTA

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Belgium’s top court Wednesday upheld a two-month jail term imposed on French comedian Dieudonne over racist and anti-Semitic remarks, Belga news agency said.

Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has faced similar cases in France, made the comments at a show in the southeastern Belgian city of Liege in 2012.

He was sentenced to jail and a 9,000-euro ($9,566) fine by a criminal court in Liege in November 2015, and had an original appeal rejected by an appeals court in January.

Judges at Belgium’s top court rejected by a majority his latest appeal, overruling only a part of the sentence demanding that he contribute to a victims’ fund, Belga said.

One of Dieudonne’s lawyers, Henri Laquay, told AFP they had not yet received a copy of the court’s decision.

The performer originally made his name in France in a double act with Jewish comedian Elie Semoun.

But he became infamous for comments about Israel and for his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

Dieudonne has been absent from all the proceedings so far.

Illustrative photo of anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne performing the anti-Semitic quenelle gesture. (YouTube screen capture).
Illustrative photo of anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne performing the anti-Semitic quenelle gesture. (YouTube screen capture).

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.

It is unlikely Dieudonne will serve any jail time because the Belgian authorities usually do not enforce short sentences to avoid overcrowding in prison.

He also received a two-month suspended jail term in France after saying he sympathized with one of the jihadists involved in the January 2015 attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

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