European court upholds Dieudonné's incitement conviction

"Freedom of expression does not give anyone the right to incite to hatred," says WJC president.

November 11, 2015 06:44
1 minute read.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.

Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The European Court of Human Rights upheld on Tuesday a French court's conviction of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala for incitement to hatred against Jews.

The French performer, known as Dieudonné, has been repeatedly convicted and fined under French hate speech laws for anti-Semitic statements during his shows.

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The Anti-Defamation League condemned Dieudonné's history of incitement.

“Dieudonné is a recidivist anti-Semite who appeals to anti-Jewish prejudices for laughs. He mocks Holocaust survivors, invented an anti-Semitic salute, and has called for authorities to free the leader of the gang that murdered Ilan Halimi,” said ADL chief Jonathan A. Greenblatt.

“While hate speech is constitutionally protected in the US, and properly so, we understand and respect the different legal regimes in European democracies. Dieudonné's conduct clearly violated French law, and he should pay the consequences.”

The court rejected Dieudonné’s appeal, writing that a 2009 incident, which was the subject of the appeal, was “a demonstration of hatred and anti-Semitism and support for Holocaust denial.”

The European Court of Human Rights is a supreme court on human rights which operates under the auspices of the Council of Europe.

World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder also applauded the court's ruling.

“Europe’s top human rights court has spoken loud and clear, and anti-Semites should take note: Freedom of expression does not give anyone the right to incite to hatred," he said.

"The French government was right to take action against Dieudonné’s despicable shows, and this ruling should give authorities across Europe the necessary legal certainty to act likewise, especially when it comes to incitement on the Internet.”

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