PARIS (Sep. 10)
The government has ordered that one of France’s most acclaimed film directors, Claude Autant-Lara, be put on trial for anti-Semitic incitement.
The 88-year-old filmmaker also was ousted from the French Academy of Fine Arts and resigned his seat in the Parliament of Europe.
Justice Minister Pierre Arpaillange announced Friday that he personally decided to initiate proceedings against Autant-Lara for virulent anti-Semitic remarks he made in an interview published Friday in the leftist monthly Le Globe.
Autant-Lara’s remarks included a scornful denial of the Holocaust and an expression of disappointment that one of its famous survivors, Simone Veil, did not perish.
Arpaillange said Autant-Lara would be charged with inciting racial hatred, racial slurs and racial defamation. If found guilty of all charges, he could face a one-year prison term.
Autant-Lara quit the European Parliament as moves were initiated by leading French political figures to strip him of parliamentary immunity.
He did so before the justice minister’s announcement, declaring defiantly that he was prepared to stand trial for group libel and inciting racial hatred.
Autant-Lara was elected to the legislative body last summer on the list of the National Front, the extreme right-wing party headed by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who himself has denied the Holocaust but says he is not anti-Semitic.
‘YES, I AM AN ANTI-SEMITE’
As the oldest member of the European Parliament, Autant-Lara was given the honor of formally opening its sessions. He used those occasions to take swipes at unnamed minorities who “dominate us.”
The film director had been vice president of the Academy of Fine Arts and was slated to head it next year.
The academy’s current president, Marcel Landowsky, said he was shocked by Autant-Lara’s remarks and joined other members in demanding his resignation.
Autant-Lara has publicly and pridefully proclaimed himself an anti-Semite and seems obsessed by Jews and the Holocaust.
Le Globe quoted him as saying, “Yes, I am an anti-Semite when they misbehave and a philo-Semite when they behave alright. Unfortunately, there are not many who behave alright. Jews are not very creative.”
Asked if he backed the Holocaust revisionist theory, Autant-Lara replied: “Obviously yes. When one looks (at it) a little closer, it become clear that it is stuffed with legends, lies.”
Autant-Lara was particularly venomous toward Veil, a former president of the European Parliament who was once voted the most popular political figure in France.
“She uses her deportation; she plays on it like a guitar. But she came back, didn’t she? And she seems to be doing alright,” he told Le Globe. “So when people talk to me about genocide, I say: They missed that woman Veil.”
Veil has refused to proffer charges against Autant-Lara, saying he is not worth the trouble. But several Jewish groups say they will sue him for damages arising from his anti-Semitic slurs.