Henry Samual — Telegraph.co.uk Nov 25, 2015
A Belgian court has sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonné to two months in prison for incitement to hatred over alleged racist and anti-Semitic remarks he made during a show in Belgium.
Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a regular in French courts over similar charges, was also fined €9,000 (£6,300) by the court in the eastern city of Liege over a show he gave there in 2012. He was not present for the verdict.
During the show before 1,000 people in Herstal, a Liege suburb and which was recorded by police, Dieudonné called Hitler a “sweet kid” and a “joyful braggart”.
He also called into question the Nazi gas chambers and described the Talmud as a “s*** book”.
Eric Lemmens, a lawyer for Belgium’s Jewish organisations, said: “All the accusations against Dieudonné were established – both incitement to hatred and hate speech but also Holocaust denial.
“For me this is more than satisfying, this is a major victory,” he added. The comedian was also ordered to publish the ruling in Belgium’s two main national daily newspapers, Le Soir and La Libre Belgique.
Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights came out against Dieudonné in a separate case, ruling that freedom of speech did not protect “racist and anti-Semitic performances”.
Dieudonné was protesting a fine he received from a French court in 2009 for inviting a Holocaust-denier on stage. He was fined €10,000 for what that court referred to as “racist insults”.
In March, a French court also handed Dieudonné a two months suspended sentence for anti-Semitic remarks after he suggested he appeared to express sympathy with the attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris, which killed 17.
The performer, who made his name in a double act with Jewish comedian Elie Semoun, is infamous for his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment. It was notably used by Nicolas Anelka, a former West Bromwich Albion striker, who was handed a five-match ban by the FA for making the gesture in 2013.
Dieudonné has appeared several times in French court over racism and anti-Semitism charges. He and his supporters say he merely exercises his right to free speech and to mock anything he sees fit.
It was not immediately clear if he intended to appeal the decision.