France: Comedian gets suspended sentence for defending terrorism
A French comic has received a suspended sentence for defending terrorism. Agence France-Presse reports that controversial French humorist Dieudonné, who was on trial for glorifying terrorism, was given a two-month suspended sentence in Paris yesterday.
The comedian, who faced the possibility of several years in prison without the possibility of parole, claimed he was innocent. "You know, tonight as far as I am concerned, I am Charlie Coulibaly," he wrote on Facebook on 10 January, referencing the "Je suis Charlie" slogan used by people in France and elsewhere in the world to express solidarity with the editorial office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
That office was targeted on 7 January by two armed men who carried out a bloody attack there, killing 12 people include the Editor-in-Chief and several caricaturists. Dieudonné added the surname of a third assassin, Amedy Coulibaly, to the slogan after Coulibaly killed four Jewish people at a kosher shop in Paris two days later.
The comedian assured the court that he has always unequivocally condemned the assassinations that happened in Paris at the beginning of January. He attributed his controversial remark to the fact that he is a professional comic and satirist.
He also criticized the fact that the authorities, in his view, behaved unfairly toward him after he made the remark, treating him as if he were a terrorist himself. The humorist, whose full name is Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, is the son of a Cameroonian man and a Frenchwoman, and for many years he actively worked against racism.
Later, however, he began to show ultra-right leanings and made anti-Semitic remarks during is performances. He has faced several lawsuits and been convicted of hate speech against Jewish people on six separate occasions.
In 2006, for example, he was fined EUR 4 500 for calling a Jewish television moderator a "secret gift to the child-killing Israeli Army". In 2008 he had to pay EUR 7 000 for calling a commemorative event about the Holocaust "memorial pornography".
The justice system in France has banned several of the comedian's shows. He was charged with tax fraud last year as well.
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