Belgian court sentences Dieudonne to two months in jail
A Belgian court sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonne Wednesday to two months in jail for incitement to hatred over racist and anti-Semitic comments he made during a show in Belgium, a lawyer said.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has faced similar court cases in France, was also fined 9,000 euros ($9,500) by the court in the eastern city of Liege, said Eric Lemmens, a lawyer for Belgium’s Jewish organisations.
He was not in court for the verdict.
The judgement “says that all the accusations against Dieudonne were established – both incitement to hatred and hate speech but also Holocaust denial” relating to a show in Liege in 2012, Lemmens told AFP.
“For me this is more than satisfying, this is a major victory,” he said.
Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Dieudonne in a separate case, deciding that freedom of speech did not protect “racist and anti-Semitic performances.”
Dieudonne was protesting a fine he received from a French court in 2009 for inviting a Holocaust-denier on stage. He was fined 10,000 euros ($11,000) for what that court referred to as “racist insults.”
In March, a French court also handed Dieudonne a two months suspended sentence and fined him heavily for anti-Semitic remarks after he caused uproar by suggesting he sympathized with the attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
“I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” he wrote on Facebook, a play on the slogan “Je suis Charlie” that became a global rallying cry against extremism and Amedy Coulibaly, one of the attackers.
The performer, who first made his name in a double act with Jewish comedian Elie Semoun before splitting and taking on an altogether more extremist tone, is infamous for his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.
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.
Dieudonne, who can appeal the decision, was not immediately reachable for comment.