Bob Dylan Charged With ‘Inciting Hate’ Under French Law
By ALLAN KOZINN
To people who follow the pronouncements of Bob Dylan, his comment in a Rolling Stone interview in September 2012 suggesting that American blacks could sense whether whites had slave-master blood “just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood” may have seemed just the sort of vaporously impressionistic, emotionally pointed kind of thing that Mr. Dylan has been known to say for decades.
But to the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions in France, an organization that looks after the interests of France’s 30,000 Croatians, those were fighting words. Now they have led to Mr. Dylan, who built his early career singing songs that denounced racism, being charged under a French law prohibiting “public insult and inciting hate.”
On Tuesday, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in Paris, told The Associated Press that the French government had filed preliminary charges. Mr. Dylan’s last encounter with the French government was just over two weeks ago, when he was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest prize.
The French government must have known that the charges were brewing when they gave Mr. Dylan the award: Vlatko Maric, the secretary general of the council, announced in November 2012 that his group had filed a complaint with the French government. That complaint led to the current charges.
“We have nothing against Rolling Stone magazine or Bob Dylan as a singer,” Mr. Maric told The Guardian. His objection, he explained, was that Mr. Dylan’s comment equated Croatian war criminals with all Croats.
What is the council seeking? Ivan Jurasinovic, a lawyer for the group, told The Associated Press that the organization was not seeking money or punishment, but hoped that Mr. Dylan, who he described as “a singer who is liked and respected in Croatia,” would apologize. A spokesman for Mr. Dylan said that the singer had no comment on the charges.