A Paris court has found British fashion designer John Galliano guilty of making anti-Semitic insults at a Paris restaurant.
According to a report in the BBC, Galliano’s punishment was a fine totaling 6,000 euros ($8,400), as well as a symbolic euro in damages to each of his victims and to five anti-racism groups who were also complainants. He will also pay legal costs for the plaintiffs.
Galliano, one of the world’s top fashion designers, was dismissed from his job with the Christian Dior label earlier this year after a confrontation between him and a man and woman at the La Perle restaurant in Paris was made public. During the fight he told the woman, “Dirty Jew, you should be dead.”
The incident led to a police investigation and more allegations came to the surface, including a video in which Galliano is shown telling two women, “I love Hitler,” adding, “People like you ought to be dead, your mothers, your forefathers would all be ****ing gassed.” The video was shot at the La Perle restaurant by a friend of the women.
A fourth woman subsequently alleged anti-Semitic abuse by Galliano. None of the four women is Jewish; however, it is believed that Galliano thought they were.
Galliano was charged with “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.” The offences carried a maximum sentence of six months in jail, but prosecutors did not ask for the designer to be sent to prison.
The designer claimed he had no recollection of the two events and denied being racist. He apologized for his behavior at a one-day trial in June and blamed drug and alcohol addictions for his outburst, BBC reported.
Galliano’s lawyer was quoted as having said after the ruling, “Mr. Galliano is relieved. Relieved that these eight months are behind him. He is looking forward to a future with understanding and forgiveness, hopefully, and to put all of this behind him.”
European Jewish Congress disappointed
European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor said following Galliano’s sentence on Thursday, “Unfortunately, the ridiculously light sentence handed to John Galliano sends exactly the wrong message to those who utilise hate speech and intolerance.”
Kantor added, “It is outrageous that someone who told others that they ‘ought to be dead’ and expressed support for the Holocaust gets away with less than a slap on the wrist. This sentence demonstrates that there appears to be a culture of impunity in the entertainment world.”
Kantor also expressed disappointment and outrage to film director Lars Von Trier’s recent attempt at the Berlin Film Festival to justify the outrageous anti-Semitic comments he made earlier in the year at the Cannes Film Festival.
Von Trier had said in a news conference at the festival, “I really wanted to be a Jew, and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, because, you know, my family was German, which also gave me some pleasure.”
He also said, “I am very much for Jews. No, not too much,” and finally ended by saying: “OK, I’m a Nazi.”
Von Trier was subsequently banned from the Cannes festival due to his remarks. He revisited the incident earlier this week when he said at the Berlin Film Festival, “There was a point to this whole thing. I think history shows that we are all Nazis somewhere, and there are a lot of things that can be suddenly set free, and the mechanics behind this setting-free is something we really should really investigate, and the way we do not investigate it is to make it a taboo to talk about it.”
Kantor said in response, “I said at the time that there must be consequences for this type of hate speech, but unfortunately they were not harsh enough to prevent Von Trier from revisiting this sick and twisted line of thought about the Nazis.”
He added, “These two events together send a very ominous message to the outside world that look up to figures like Von Trier and Galliano. It is time that the entertainment world became more serious about hate speech, and those who spout intolerance and bigotry should immediately be rejected by the industry and treated like the pariah their comments deserve.”