French comedian goes on trial over 'Coulibaly' comments

Dieudonne is one of 54 people who have been held in France following the two gun attacks in Paris in January.

French comedian goes on trial over 'Coulibaly' comments

 

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Paris prosecutor has requested that controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala pay €30,000 ($34,000) fine for "advocating terrorism."

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala had posted comments on his official Facebook page referring to the deadly attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Paris market.

The prosecutor called for the comedian to be fined €30,000 -- or handed a 200-day prison sentence should he fail to pay the fine -- if convicted of the charges, brought after he wrote on Facebook: "Je suis Charlie Coulibaly (I am Charlie Coulibaly)."

Dieudonne's lawyer, Sanjay Mirabeau, told reporters as he entered the Paris Correctional Court on Wednesday: "Dieudonne's words are essentially humor to make people laugh -- they cannot be taken as an offense."

He said he would ask the judge to drop the charges, which he described as "unfounded."

Dieudonne's comment were interpreted by some as being disrespectful towards the victims of the massacres in early January in Paris, given Coulibaly was the surname of gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who killed five people in a hostage siege at the kosher market.

The verdict is due March 18.

 'Hatred and division'

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited Paris's Jewish quarter in the Marais last month, described Dieudonne's remarks as "contemptible" and said he faced court action for displaying "a lack of respect and a willingness to stir up hatred and division."

Dieudonne has wrote on his Facebook page : "For a year, I have been treated like public enemy number one, while I seek to do nothing but make people laugh...they consider me as an Amedy Coulibaly, when I’m not different from Charlie."

Despite wide criticism, the comedian remains popular in France, where fans have posted on social media under the hashtag #JeSuisDieudo -- meaning "We are all Dieudonne" -- to show their support for him during the trial.

Open criticism

He was previously fined €65,000 ($73,600) for "anti-Semitic and racial slurs" following performances in 2014.

He has insisted he is not anti-Semitic but he holds anti-Zionist and anti-establishment views. 

Dieudonne is one of 54 people who have been held in France following the two gun attacks in Paris in January.

Dieudonne, 48, Paris-born, son of a Cameroonian father and French mother, began his comedy career with a Jewish sidekick in the early 1990s and appeared in several films.

Originally active with anti-racist left-wing groups, he began openly criticizing Jews and Israel in 2002 and ran in the European elections two years later with a pro-Palestinian party.

 

Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2015, 10:57
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