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France

Bob Dylan investigated in France for ‘racist’ comments

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-03

The American singer Bob Dylan is being investigated in France after a Croatian community organisation alleged that comments he made to Rolling Stone magazine last year amounted to incitement to racial hatred.

US singer Bob Dylan has been placed under judicial investigation in France for allegedly inciting racial hatred, following an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in which he compared Croats with Nazis, Paris prosecutors said on Monday.

Dylan was questioned and charged last month when he visited France to perform a series of concerts and to be awarded the Légion d’Honneur, one of France’s top awards.

The complaint, made by the Council of Croats in France (CRICCF), centres on a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine during which he compared the relationship between Croats and Serbs to that of the Nazis and the Jews.

"This country is just too fucked up about colour.... People at each other's throats just because they are of a different colour," Dylan is quoted saying in a discussion on race relations in the United States.

"Blacks know that some whites didn't want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can't pretend they don't know that.

"If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood."

French media law bars incitement to "discrimination, hatred or violence with regard to a person or group of people on the grounds of their origin or of their membership or non-membership of an ethnic group, a nation, a race, or a religion".

Croatia’s contentious past

Croatia and Serbia fought after the breakup of Yugoslavia in a 1991-1995 war that left around 20,000 people dead.

Croatians are highly sensitive when mentioned in a Nazi-related context because of the so-called Independent State of Croatia experience in World War II, during which the German-allied Ustasha regime killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, gypsies and anti-fascist Croatians in their death camps.

The most notorious was Jasenovac, also known as Croatia's Auschwitz. To this day, the number of people killed in Jasenovac – mostly Serbs – is contentious. Estimates vary from 80,000, according to the Croatian government, to 700,000 according to Serbian figures.

Since Croatia declared independence in 1991, some groups have attempted to rehabilitate aspects of the Ustasha regime. Its supporters are sometimes seen in football stadiums giving the Nazi salute.

Last month FIFA launched a probe against international defender Josip Simunic for appearing to lead fans into Ustasha-era chants after his team qualified for the World Cup.

Dylan, who played back-to-back concerts in Serbia and Croatia in 2010, rose to prominence in the 1960s partly for his support of the US civil rights movement.

A representative of Dylan's label said he was not aware of the proceedings against the star, while the CRICCF refused immediate comment.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2013-12-03

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