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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
French comic 'not anti-Semitic'
French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala
The comedian says the furore over his sketch has damaged business
A comedian who gave the Nazi salute while dressed as an Orthodox Jew on a TV sketch show has been cleared of anti-Semitism by a Paris court.

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala's sketch mocked Israel's policy of building Jewish housing on Palestinian land.

The judge said this was not an attack against Jews in general but against a type of person "distinguished by their political views".

Jewish and anti-racist groups have said they will appeal the court's decision.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said the decision, though lawful, ignored the pain the sketch had caused French Jews.

But a lawyer for the comedian said the court recognised his client's "right to criticise the policies of a state and not be branded an anti-Semite, even if this state is Israel".

After the ruling, Dieudonne, as he is known, demanded an apology from French Justice Minister Dominique Perben, who had earlier called for a heavy fine to punish the comedian.

Fined for remarks

Dieudonne is no stranger to controversy.

He has repeatedly criticised Israeli and American policies and once said he preferred "Osama Bin Laden's charisma to that of US President George W Bush".

His TV sketch urging French youth to sign up to the "Axis of Good: the American-Zionist axis" created uproar amongst Jewish groups.

In a separate case, a French court on Wednesday fined him 5,000 euros (about $6,000) for comments he made about Jews in a newspaper interview.

Paris show in anti-Semitism row
20 Feb 04  |  Europe

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