Bob Dylan has been charged with incitement to hatred in France following comments he made about Croatians in a recent interview.
The charges, brought forward by French judges, relate to an interview Dylan gave in the September issue of the French version of Rolling Stone magazine. In the article, he mentioned Croatia in the same sentence as the Nazi party. The American singer faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of €45,000 (£37,000) if found guilty.
Dylan’s quotes came in response to a question about whether he sees parallels between Civil War-era America and the US of today. “It’s like . . . the United States burned and destroyed itself for the sake of slavery. The USA wouldn’t give it up. It had to be grinded out. The whole system had to be ripped out with force. A lot of killing. What, like, 500,000 people? A lot of destruction to end slavery. And that’s what it really was all about,” he replied.
He continued: “This country is just too fucked up about colour. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different colour. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back – or any neighbourhood back. Or any anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that.
“If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
The Times reports that Dylan’s songs were taken off the playlist of Radio Split in Croatia following the comments. “He was without any doubt inciting hatred against Croatians,” Vlatko Maric, a spokesman for the council, told Slobodna Dalmacjia, a Croatian newspaper. “The court in Paris has accepted the case and we still wait for the date of the trial to be confirmed. We still don’t know whether Bob Dylan will appear in person or will send a lawyer to represent him.”
It was previously reported that the Representative Council of the Croatian Institutions of France filed the legendary singer/songwriter with a criminal lawsuit for the same comments.