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Bob Dylan was a prominent supporter of the U.S. civil rights movement, but that isn’t stopping a Croatian group from suing him for “racism.”
According to Business Insider, a Croatian community association based in France is suing the rock icon over comments he made in a cover story in Rolling Stone.
In the interview, printed last year, Dylan is asked about parallels between the 1860s and present-day America, responding that the U.S. is “too f—ed up about color. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back — or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery — that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that.
“That stuff lingers to this day,” he adds. “Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
The Council of Croats in France have taken offense to that last line, deciding to sue Dylan and the French edition of the magazine.
“It is an incitement to hatred,” Vlatko Maric, secretary general of the organization, said, according to International Business Times. “You cannot compare Croatian criminals to all Croats. But we have nothing against Rolling Stone magazine or Bob Dylan as a singer.”
Croats and Serbs have long been in conflict, culminating in a four-year war from 1991 to 1995 during which Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia.
France’s free speech laws are more strict than those of the U.S., and if found in the wrong, Dylan could face a fine.
The case comes weeks after the singer was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest military and civil esteem — though his appointment came with controversy from multiple French groups who protested, among other things, Dylan’s anti-war sentiments and marijuana use.
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