Bob Dylan charged in France over Croat comments: Source

Bob Dylan charged in France over Croat comments: Source

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Bob Dylan charged in France over Croat comments: Source

This July 22, 2012 file photo shows U.S. singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performing on at "Les Vieilles Charrues" Festival in Carhaix, western France. AP Photo

Bob Dylan has been charged with insulting behaviour and incitement to hatred in France after a Croat group filed a complaint about an interview he gave to Rolling Stone magazine, a judicial source said Dec. 2.

The American singer was questioned and charged in mid-November after the group complained about the interview, in which he allegedly compared the relationship between Jews and Nazis to that of Serbs and Croats.

The Council of Croats in France (CRICCF) had filed the complaint a year ago over an analogy he made in the 2012 interview while discussing race relations in the United States.

"This country is just too f*cked up about colour.... People at each other's throats just because they are of a different colour," Dylan told Rolling Stone.

"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." Last month, the 72-year-old music legend picked up France's Legion d'Honneur award, which can be granted to any foreigner seen as having served France's interests or upheld its values.

It was French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti who suggested that "the man (Barack) Obama himself calls the greatest American musician in history" should be decorated.

A representative of Dylan's label said he was not aware of the proceedings against the star, while the CRICCF refused to immediately comment.

Croatia and Serbia fought after the breakup of Yugoslavia in a 1991-1995 war that left around 20,000 people dead.

Croatians are very sensitive when mentioned in a Nazi-related context.

Their previous stab at statehood came during World War II 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, also 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.

Many Croatians fought in the partisan movement, whose leader was Croatian-born former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito.

Since Croatia declared independence in 1991, some groups have attempted to rehabilitate aspects of the Ustasha regime. Its supporters are sometimes seen in football stadiums giving the Nazi salute.

Last month FIFA launched a probe against international defender Josip Simunic for appearing to lead fans into Ustasha-era chants after his team qualified for the World Cup.

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.

Obama last year awarded Dylan America's highest civilian honour -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- and said: "There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music."