Bob Dylan has been charged with incitement to racial hatred following an investigation in France into comments he made likening Croats to Nazis and slave owners.
According to the AFP, the legendary singer-songwriter was questioned and eventually charged last month, after the Council of Croats in France (CRICCF) filed a lawsuit in relation to an interview he gave to French Rolling Stone in 2012.
Dylan, who was one of the public faces of the civil rights movement in the US during the 1960s, made the comments when asked how much he felt America had progressed since the Civil War in the 19th century.
“This country is just too f***** up about colour. It's a distraction. People at each others' 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,” Dylan said.
“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.”
CRICCF secretary general Vlatko Maric confirmed that Parisian courts have agreed to hear the case and have requested Dylan’s presence during the hearing, the International Business Times reports.
In a statement, Maric said: “It is an incitement to hatred. You cannot compare Croatian criminals to all Croats. But we have nothing against Rolling Stone magazine or Bob Dylan as a singer. ”
There are greater restrictions on freedom of speech in France than there are in the US, and if Dylan is found guilty of racism, he could face a fine.
His remarks have already had a knock-on effect in the country, with several Croatian radio stations removing his music from their playlists.
The news comes just weeks after the star was given the Legion of Honour, the most prestigious award in France.
The star last played in Croatia back in 2010. He also performed in Belgrade shortly before Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
Dylan recently unveiled his first ever music video to “Like a Rolling Stone”, almost 50 years after it was released.
A representative for Bob Dylan is yet to comment on the news.
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