French comedian Dieudonné fined for antisemitic content

The Swiss courts found a French comedian Dieudonné guilty of violating laws on racist and antisemitic content and set a penalty of CHF 170 for 180 days – a common method of setting financial sanctions in Switzerland, Swiss Info reported.

The complaint was brought forward by the Coordination against Antisemitism and Defamation (CICAD) NGO in 2019.

The comedian had performed a sketch in Switzerland in which he denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers. The sketch was found to be in violation of the Swiss laws against racism and antisemitism.

According to Le Monde, Dieudonné claimed in the hearing that the comments were coming from the “character” he was putting on and did not reflect his genuine beliefs.

The argument was reportedly not accepted by President of the Geneva Police Court Sabina Mascotto. “In view of his previous statements, his positions and the absence of any humor in his remarks, he will be found guilty of racial discrimination,” she stressed.

“We don’t want Switzerland becoming a playing field for antisemites and racists,” said CICAD Secretary General John Garfinkel on public television in 2019.

Dieudonné’s lawyer told Le Monde that he will likely appeal. “We forget that France, which is very repressive, did not sue Dieudonné for this same show,” he said.

This is not the first time Dieudonné has been punished for such comments. He has several convictions for inciting hatred against Jews and has had to pay tens of thousand of Euros in fines for racial slander, defamation and hate speech.

In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Dieudonné, saying that negationist speech could not be seen as freedom of speech.

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