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France

French comedian on trial for anti-Semitic video

media Dieudonné, le 23 avril 2009, lors d'une conférence de presse au cours … Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala (Photo : AFP)

French prosecutors on Friday called for comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala to pay 20,000 euros for failing to pay an earlier fine for anti-Semitic remarks in a video posted online or face prison.

In a Paris court on Friday prosecutors called for Dieudonné - the controversial comedian's stage name - to be fined 100 euros a day for 200 days and to serve a day in prison for every day he fails to pay.

He left the court after three hours of a six-hour sitting without speaking in his own defence.

His lawyers say that his co-accused, Ahmed Moualek, put the video online without his permission.

In the offending video the comedian mocked holocaust memorials, denounced the "Jewish lobby" and called for the release of Youssouf Fofana, who is in jail for the murder of Jewish youth, Ilan Halimi.

Dieudonné began his career as a comedian with a Jewish partner, Elie Semoun, and entered politics as a candidate against the far-right Front National.

But his denunciation of the slave trade led him to claim that holocaust memorial was obscuring the history of racism against blacks, leading to an anti-Zionism that has frequently been accused of serving as a vehicle for anti-Semitism.

He has since faced several court cases for anti-Semitic hate speech and libel and has stood as an "anti-Zionist" candidate along with far-right theoretician Alain Soral.

"Dieudonné is saying out loud what some people think without saying it," Sammy Ghozlan, the president of the National organisation of Vigilance against Anti-Semitic Speech, told RFI.

Campaigners met Dieudonné "to make him understand a few things", Ghozlan said.

"We thought he had understood them. But he tricked us. He is someone who lies, someone who breaks the rules of society and wants to prove that he has some influence. I will never forget that he is smart and very mischievous. He always finds a way to slip through the net. We must finish this and stop him."

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