Bob Dylan charged with incitement to hatred over comment about Croats
Singer accused by Paris police of incitementto hatred over interview with Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan has been charged with incitement to hatred in France after he was quoted comparing Croats with Nazis in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
The American singer was questioned and charged last month while on a visit to Paris, during which he gave several concerts and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur, one of France's top honours.
The charge centres on an interview last year with Rolling Stone when he compared the relationship between Croats and Serbs to that of the Nazis and Jews.
"This country is just too f***ed up about colour … People at each other's throats just because they are of a different colour," Dylan said, discussing race relations in the United States. "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 charge came after the Council of Croats in France filed a complaint about the comments.
French media law bars incitement to "discrimination, hatred or violence with regard to a person or group of people on the grounds of their origin or of their membership or non-membership of an ethnic group, a nation, a race, or a religion".
Dylan, 72, is well loved in France. He picked up the Legion d'Honneur on the recommendation of Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti, who suggested that "the man [Barack] Obama himself calls the greatest American musician in history" should be decorated. The award can be granted to any foreigner seen as having served France's interests or upheld its values.
Croatia and Serbia fought after the break-up of Yugoslavia in a 1991-1995 war that left about 20,000 people dead.
Croatians are highly sensitive when mentioned in a Nazi-related context.
Their previous stab at statehood came during the second world war with the so-called Independent State of Croatia. The Nazi-allied Ustasha regime killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians in their death camps. The most notorious was Jasenovac, known as Croatia's Auschwitz.
To this day, the number of people killed in Jasenovac - mostly Serbs - is contentious. Estimates vary from 80,000 according to the Croatian government to 700,000 according to Serbian figures.
Dylan, who played back-to-back concerts in Serbia and Croatia in 2010, rose to prominence in the 1960s partly for his support of the US civil rights movement.