Swiss court sentences French comedian for anti-semitic sketch

French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala sepaking to reporters outside court in Geneva. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has been fined by a Geneva court for racist content during performances in Switzerland, including denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers.

This content was published on July 8, 2021 - 17:36

Having found the comedian guilty of the charges on Thursday, the court set the penalty at CHF170 francs for 180 days – a common method of setting financial sanctions in Switzerland.

The complaint was brought by the Coordination against Antisemitism and Defamation (CICAD) organisation in 2019. During his “En Vérité” shows (which means “In Truth” in English) in western Switzerland, Dieudonné performed a sketch in which he denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers, thus violating Swiss criminal laws on racism and anti-Semitism. 

“We don’t want Switzerland becoming a playing field for anti-Semites and racists,” CICAD secretary general John Garfinkel told Swiss public television in 2019.

The comic has a string of convictions for inciting hatred against Jews and is the inventor of the controversial “quenelle” hand gesture. In France and Belgium he has had to pay tens of thousands of euros in fines for racial slander, defamation and hate speech.

In 2015 the European Court of Human Rights, ruling against Dieudonné, deemed that negationist speech could not be equated with freedom of expression.

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