In a video posted Monday, Roger Cukierman, who leads CRIF—the umbrella group of French Jewish organizations and communities—announced that he had been indicted for referring to French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala as a “professional anti-Semite” during a television appearance. Complaints of defamation almost always lead to indictments in France, the website L’Express explained.
Although he may complain otherwise, Dieudonné has not exactly gone out of his way to avoid the label. A gifted comedian, he was the “multicultural golden boy of French comedy” whose acts took a darker and more political turn over the past decade, often laced with anti-Jewish vitriol.
In recent months Dieudonné—who popularized the quenelle, a reverse Nazi salute so controversial one Frenchman was recently fined for performing the gesture—has himself been tried, and acquitted, for anti-Semitism.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism has come out in support of Cukierman, releasing a statement calling the case “both a ridiculous and tragic matter.”
In the video, Cukierman said that he is “being indicted for having stated on Europe 1 that Dieudonné is a professional anti-Semite. Isn’t that funny?”
He added, “For once, Dieudonné is actually comical.”
Zack Schrieber is an intern at Tablet Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @zschrieber.