Bob Dylan sued for alleged racism over remarks about Croatians

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has been placed under judicial investigation in France after a Croatian community organisation alleged comments he made to Rolling Stone magazine last year amounted to an incitement of racial hatred.

In the interview, published on 27 September 2012, the singer said racism was holding America back.

"If you got a slave master or [Ku Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that," he was quoted as saying. "That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood."

The formal investigation followed a legal complaint from the organisation, CRICCF, which is based in France, alleging that the comments as carried in the French version of the magazine violated French racial hatred laws.

Dylan was awarded France's prestigious Legion d'Honneur award last month in Paris. The culture minister Aurelie Filippetti said that, for French people, he embodied a "subversive cultural force that can change people and the world".

Following the interview, several Croatian radio stations reportedly removed Dylan's songs from their playlists. The CRICCF brought forward their complaint in November 2012, naming Dylan as a defendant as well as Rolling Stone's French publisher. "We have nothing against Rolling Stone magazine or Bob Dylan as a singer," Maric said. "[But] you cannot equate Croatian [war] criminals with all Croats."

In 2010, Dylan played concerts both in Belgrade, Serbia and in Zagreb, Croatia. He previously visited Belgrade for a gig in 1991, just two weeks before Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia.

Dylan was recently awarded France's Legion of Honour, the country's highest award.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Sean Michaels and agencies, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 3rd December 2013 00.58 Europe/London

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image: © Alberto Cabello