Skip to main content

Bob Dylan investigated, suspected of inciting hatred with Croatia remark

From Sandrine Amiel, CNN
updated 2:34 PM EST, Tue December 3, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Croatian group would be willing to drop charges if Dylan publicly apologizes, lawyer says
  • Iconic singer Bob Dylan is accused of likening the Croatian people to Nazis
  • The remarks were quoted in an interview for the French edition of Rolling Stone magazine
  • The complaint was brought by a body representing Croatians in France

Paris (CNN) -- Bob Dylan is being investigated on suspicion of inciting hatred in Paris over comments he made in Rolling Stone magazine, French prosecutors said Tuesday.

An organization representing Croatians in France pressed charges against Dylan for allegedly comparing the conflict between Croatians and Serbs to the Nazis' persecution of Jews in an interview last year for the French edition of Rolling Stone.

"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," the influential singer-songwriter was quoted as saying.

While a Croatian group has said Dylan was referencing the violence that came with the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, it's unclear whether the long-outspoken musician was referring to Yugoslavia or the crimes committed when the Ustasha ruled Croatia during World War II.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Dylan was placed under formal investigation last month by the Paris Main Court for "public injury" and "incitement to hatred."

Vlatko Maric, secretary general of the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions, told CNN his organization had brought the case almost a year ago.

Bob Dylan smokes a cigarette circa 1966. Dylan's music spoke to a generation of people during the 1960s, a tumultuous decade that forever changed America. He went on to become a rock 'n' roll legend and influence many musicians to come. Bob Dylan smokes a cigarette circa 1966. Dylan's music spoke to a generation of people during the 1960s, a tumultuous decade that forever changed America. He went on to become a rock 'n' roll legend and influence many musicians to come.
Bob Dylan through the years
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
>
>>
Photos: Bob Dylan: Voice of a generation Photos: Bob Dylan: Voice of a generation

Explaining the council's decision to pursue the case against Dylan, Maric said the artist's remarks in Rolling Stone were of a "rare violence" that had deeply shocked people from a nation still wounded by the conflict of the 1990s.

"An entire people is being compared to criminal organizations" like the Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan, he said. "The Croatians are peaceful people who respect Bob Dylan as an artist, but we must remind him that he can't make such remarks.

"We have nothing against him, but the Croatians do not want to be insulted."

Lawyer: We'd like a public apology

A lawyer for the Croatian organization told CNN on Tuesday that his clients would be willing to drop the charges if Dylan publicly apologized for his remarks.

"An apology is a better repair than a financial compensation," Ivan Jurasinovic said, adding that this would be a far more positive outcome for everyone.

"Bob Dylan is someone who is very much admired in Croatia," he said.

Asked if his clients had already contacted Dylan to request an apology, he said that the process was "ongoing" and that "they hoped something could be arranged."

Representatives of Dylan and Rolling Stone have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2012, just one of many accolades to come the musician's way during half a century in the public eye. He was also named an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters this year.

Bloody conflicts

Between 1941 and 1945, Croatia's Ustasha erected numerous concentration camps "to isolate and murder Jews, Serbs, Roma (also known as Gypsies), and other non-Catholic minorities, as well as Croatian political and religious opponents of the regime," according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Croat authorities murdered an estimated 320,000 to 340,000 ethnic Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia under Ustasha rule, the museum says.

Decades later, the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s caused the bloodiest conflict on the European continent since World War II, with more than 100,000 people believed killed.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a U.N.-backed court, continues to prosecute war crimes committed during that time.

The tribunal has said "the most significant number" of its cases have dealt with alleged crimes by Serbians or Bosnian Serbs. But there have been convictions for crimes against Serbs by others, including Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:10 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
updated 9:01 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
updated 7:06 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Tucked away near the border with Cameroon, this poor corner of Nigeria is no stranger to such brazen, violent acts.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
An infant mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tthe constant threat of poaching, deforestation and human diseases means the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
updated 10:02 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
How could a teenage stowaway survive hours in a jet's sub-zero wheel well at 38,000 feet?
updated 12:28 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
See what life is like for superyacht stewardesses-in-training. One thing's for certain -- they can never say "no."
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Home of Bruce Lee, divine dim sum, lofty buildings, loftier real estate prices and easy access to the great outdoors.
ADVERTISEMENT