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Designer Galliano denies anti-Semitism, apologizes

PARIS (JTA) — Fashion designer John Galliano denied accusations of anti-Semitism and racism that cost him his job, but he also apologized for his behavior and "personal failure."

"I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I find myself," Galliano said in a public statement issued Wednesday, adding that he is "seeking help." 

The fashion house Dior announced Tuesday that it was firing its star creator after a video surfaced this week showing Galliano praising Hitler, and a second complaint of anti-Semitism was filed against him regarding events that took place last October.

"I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, having been subjected to it myself," said his statement, which was released by his attorney. "In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion. That remains my guiding light.

"Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense."

Galliano was taken into police custody Feb. 24 following an altercation with two customers at a Paris bar, who claim the designer harassed them with slurs, including “dirty Jewish face, you should be dead” to Geraldine Bloch, 35, according to reports.

"I completely deny the claims made against me and have fully cooperated with the police investigation," Galliano wrote in his statement. He has taken legal action against his accusers for defamation.

The designer claimed he was the victim of prejudice, not the instigator of it. He said he was verbally and physically assaulted over his "look" and clothing.

Paris prosecutors announced Wednesday that Galliano would be tried in court for "public injury toward individuals due to their origin, their religious affiliation," according to a statement.

Galliano could face up to six months in prison and a $31,000 fine for hate and anti-Semitic speech.

Dior said it would continue with its scheduled fashion show on Friday during the city’s celebrated Fashion Week extravaganza.

French and international Jewish groups have praised the company for its swift decision to fire their designer. It is unclear who will replace him.
 

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