Navigation

French comedian Dieudonné loses Swiss appeal over anti-semitic sketch

French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala speaks to reporters outside a court in Geneva in July 2021. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has lost his appeal against a 2021 conviction for racist content during performances in Switzerland, which included denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers.

This content was published on May 16, 2022 - 11:39
Keystone-SDA/sb

A Geneva appeals court has confirmed last year’s decision – a financial penalty at CHF170 francs for 180 days (CHF30,600) plus related court costs – a common method of setting financial sanctions in Switzerland. The appeal ruling of April 28 was revealed in an article by the Tribune de Genève newspaper on Sunday.

The initial complaint was brought by the Coordination against Anti-semitism 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. 

In its appeal ruling that found Dieudonné guilty of racial discrimination, the Geneva court said the comedian had “consciously and willingly made negationist and discriminatory remarks about the victims of the Shoah in such a way as to undermine their human dignity”.

The court said it confirmed the earlier sentence in view of Dieudonné's poor cooperation with the proceedings and his lack of awareness.

“He constantly concealed the purpose of his attacks and minimised the scope of his remarks, for which he first attributed responsibility to his co-author, before hiding behind the character of his sketch,” it said.

Dieudonné's lawyer, Pascal Junod, said the French comedian planned to appeal to the Federal Court, Switzerland’s highest court.

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 paid 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.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?