Monday, 2 Aug 2021 - 24 of Av, 5781

Controversial French humorist sentenced in Switzerland for racial discrimination

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Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was prosecuted for having uttered negationist remarks during his shows in Nyon and Geneva in 2019. At the end of a sketch, one of the commedian’s characters had shouted that “the gas chambers never existed”.

French controversial humorist Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was sentenced by a Swiss Court to a 28,000 euros fine for racial discrimination. The defendant was not present at the trial hearing.

Dieudonné, aged 55, was prosecuted for having uttered negationist remarks during his shows in Nyon and Geneva in 2019. At the end of a sketch, one of the commedian’s characters had shouted that “the gas chambers never existed”.

The comedian was also tried for having insulted on stage the CICAD (Inter-community community against anti-Semitism and defamation) and its secretary general Johanne Gurfinkiel.

During the hearing,  Dieudonné’s lawyer argued that it was not he who had said the phrase during the show, but his “character”. This argument was dismissed by the president of the Geneva police court, Sabina Mascotto.

“In view of his previous statements, his positions and the absence of any humorous character in his remarks, he will be found guilty of racial discrimination,” she said.

“The phrase cannot be understood as anything other than the denial of the gas chambers,” she added, also pointing to Dieudonné’s “connections” with the French far-right essayist “Alain Soral, a notorious anti-Semite”.

Moreover, she said, “freedom of expression can be limited, even in a comedy show, under certain legal conditions, in particular the public interest”.

Dieudonné has already been convicted in France on numerous occasions for racial insults or incitement to hatred. His lawyer, Pascal Junod, told reporters that he would “very probably” appeal the sentence.

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