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Top European court rules against French comic Dieudonne's in free speech case

The European Court of Human Rights has denied an appeal made by the controversial comic Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala. In its decision, the court called the comic's show anti-Semitic.

The court said on Tuesday the comedian's freedom of speech had not been violated when a Paris court convicted and fined him for comments he made during a show that were deemed offensive to Jews.

Dieudonne, as the comic is known, performed a routine in December 2008 in which he invited a known Holocaust-denier on stage while wearing striped pajamas reminiscent of those worn by concentration camp prisoners, complete with a yellow star with the word "Jew" written on it.

A French court convicted Dieudonne in October 2009 of committing hate crimes and charged him with a 10,000-euro ($10,696) fine. The comedian appealed multiple times before taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

A history of incitement

In its decision to side with the French judges, Europe's top court noted that Dieudonne had made previous comments deemed hateful toward Jews and argued the 2008 show was "unmistakably negationist and anti-Semitic in nature," according to Reuters news agency.

This is also not the first time the comedian has run afoul of the law due to offensive subject matter. The Paris-based Dieudonne

was arrested in March

after posting a comment on Facebook relating to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. On the eve of a public march honoring those who died, Dieudonne took to the social media website and wrote, "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly" - a mix of the popular "Je suis Charlie" solidarity slogan and the name of a gunman involved in the attacks.

Dieudonne was eventually

found guilty

of condoning terrorism, even though the comedian said he "condemned the attacks without any restraint and without any ambiguity."

blc/kms (Reuters, AP)

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