French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was found guilty on Wednesday of “condoning terrorism” after posting a sardonic Facebook message in January.
After the attacks that killed 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, one municipal police officer south of Paris, and four people at a kosher supermarket, Dieudonné wrote on his Facebook page that he felt like “Charlie Coulibaly.”
The message blended the popular “Je suis Charlie” slogan to pay tribute to all the victims in condemning the attacks.
David de Stefano, one of Dieudonné’s lawyers, said that he would appeal Wednesday’s conviction.
“When you put that phrase back in the context of all the other messages he published on Facebook, you realize that he had a peaceful approach,” Mr. de Stefano said.
The court in Paris gave him a suspended two-month jail sentence because his message “showed sympathy with one of the gunmen”, Coulibaly. Coulibaly was shot before he could stand trial.
The comedian was convicted under a new law enacted in November meant to rein in speech supporting terrorism. The law was aggressively enforced by the French authorities in the wake of the January attacks.
Meanwhile a storm has erupted over a former French deputy minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s government who claimed that she had been the lover of one of the victims killed in the attack.
Janette Bougrab gave a series of smiling interviews on the murder of her “partner” Charb – the editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier. She insisted however that she felt “emotional”.
But in a bizarre twist, Charbonnier’s family as well as his gay lover have formally denied the relationship between him and former minister, Bougrab.
Bougrab, the mother of an adopted three-year-old daughter May, claimed the two had lived together for three years, but Charb’s gay partner “outed” him at his funeral and suggested that Bougrab had lied. She did not attend the funeral.
The extreme left feminist Caroline Fourest quickly came to Bougrab’s rescue during an interview shortly after the “outing” and declared that the two had been romantically involved.
Fourest also admitted that Charlie Hebdo had needed money urgently because readers had lost almost all interest before the fatal shooting. Some have suggested that Bougrab had secured funds for the weekly, but needed a way to donate the funds without scrutiny.
It appears that Bougrab might have paid Charb for anti-Muslim caricatures and had invented the relationship in order to mask the transfer of funds. The transfer would rouse no suspiscion “between spouses”.
Some even suggest that this arrangement had been discovered by the police commissioner Helric Fredou after he had looked into Bougrab’s bank accounts. Fredou committed suicide while working on the Charlie Hebdo case.
It appears that Bougrab’s parents also told the police commissioner that the two had not shared a bed. Charb was a communist, Bougrab a member of the UMP, the centre right party.
Asked if she had been comforted by the world’s adoption of the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ symbol and that it could be seen as a sign of victory, of hope, Bougrab said passionately: ‘Absolutely not, because he’s dead. It’s absolutely not a victory.
‘It’s a defeat. It’s a tragedy for our country and I refused to rejoice in the idea that people are demonstrating in the streets because they have torn away the precious being who accompanied me in life.’
Bougrab slammed the ‘inadequate’ security around the Charlie Hebdo offices, saying: ‘We could have avoided this massacre.’