Application Number 25239/13

European Court of Human Rights

[Judgment delivered in French]

A comedian put on a show in which he awarded a well-known revisionist academic. The show, described below, was deemed by the Court to be highly anti-Semitic. The Court relied on Article 17 finding the case incompatible ratione materiae with the Convention.


Theme(s): Genocide Denial (Holocaust)

Date: 20 October 2015

Description of applicant(s): Comedian

Brief description of facts:  The applicant, a comedian put on a performance during which he invited an academic, who had received a number of convictions in France for his negationist and revisionist opinions to join him on stage at the end of the show. The applicant called up an actor wearing a pair of striped pyjamas with a yellow star bearing the word “Jew” – to award the academic a “prize for unfrequentability and insolence”. The prize took the form of a three-branched candlestick, with an apple crowning each branch. The incident was recorded by the police. The applicant was charged and found guilty of public insults directed at a person or group of persons on account of their origin or of their belonging, or not belonging, to a given ethnic community, nation, race or religion. The court sentenced him to a fine of EUR 10,000, awarding a token euro in damages to each civil party. All appeals failed.

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Jews

The Court’s assessment of impugned speech: The Court found that the performance was highly anti-Semitic, supported Holocaust denial and that the offending scene could not be regarded as entertainment but, rather, as a political meeting. Through the use of Article 17, the Court found the application incompatible ratione materiae.

Important paragraph(s) from the judgment:

Para. 39: The applicant cannot claim, in the particular circumstances of the case and with regard to its context, as having acted as an artist with the right to express himself through satire, humor and provocation. Indeed, within the guise of a humorous representation, he invited one of the best known French Holocaust deniers, convicted a year ago for denying crimes against humanity, to honour him and give him the floor.

ECHR Article: Article 17

Decision: Incompatible ratione materiae with the Convention

Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Court in its assessment? No

Note! Translation from French to English are our own.