Wednesday, November 11, 2015

European Court Rejects Appeal of Conviction For Comedy Performance Promoting Holocaust Denial

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday held inadmissible (i.e. dismissed at a preliminary stage as incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights) the appeal of a conviction by a French court of a comedian charged with publicly directing insults at a person or group of persons on account of their origin or of belonging, or not belonging, to a given ethnic community, nation, race or religion.  M'Bala v. France, (ECHR, Nov. 10, 2015) (full text of decision in French) (Press Release in English) involves a comedian who at the end of a show in Paris invited a well-known Holocaust denier onto stage to receive a "prize for unfrequentability and insolence." According to the Court's press release:
The prize, which took the form of a three-branched candlestick with an apple on each branch, was awarded to him by an actor wearing what was described as a “garment of light” – a pair of striped pyjamas with a stitched-on yellow star bearing the word “Jew” – who thus played the part of a Jewish deportee in a concentration camp....
In the Court’s view, this was not a performance which, even if satirical or provocative, fell within the protection of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on human rights, but was in reality, in the circumstances of the case, a demonstration of hatred and anti-Semitism and support for Holocaust denial. Disguised as an artistic production, it was in fact as dangerous as a head-on and sudden attack, and provided a platform for an ideology which ran counter to the values of the European Convention.
Times of Israel reports on the decision.  [Thanks to Paul de Mello for the lead.]