Controversial French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has escaped his latest legal battle, JTA reports. A French court dismissed a hate speech lawsuit brought against Dieudonné by the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, over a YouTube video in which he mocks the Holocaust and suggests that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls gives the Jews of France preferential treatment.
While “capable of shocking and offending,” the judge wrote, “the video seeks to stigmatize and discredit Manuel Valls and to denounce the privileged status that he allegedly reserved for French Jews,” and “cannot justify severe limitations on freedom of expression.”
Dieudonné, who has been in hot water with French authorities for much of the past year, is behind the quenelle gesture, the reverse Nazi salute that has become disturbingly popular throughout France. The gesture—like much of the material in the video, according to this latest ruling—obscures its original meaning and implications just enough so as to avoid trouble with France’s strict laws on hate speech.
The comedian has managed, yet again, to remain one step ahead of French authorities—but his adherents aren’t so lucky. In April, a 28-year-old Moroccan fan of Dieudonné was fined $4,130 by a French court after posting photos online of himself giving the salute in front of Grand Synagogue in Bordeaux.
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.