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Legendary singer Bob Dylan is being investigated in France due to incendiary comments he made during a Rolling Stone interview that a group representing Croatians found shocking and insulting.
Back in September 2012, while promoting his new album Tempest, Dylan spoke with Rolling Stone and touched on the topic of racism in America. He told the magazine that racism in America was holding back the country, as the effects of slavery still linger. He was also interviewed in the French Rolling Stone.
“If you got a slave master or [Ku Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that,” he is quoted as saying in the French Rolling Stone. “That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
The mention of the 1990s conflicts between Serbs and Croatians drew attention from the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions, which brought up the issue a year ago, secretary general Vlatko Maric told CNN. Maric called Dylan’s comments of a “rare violence.”
“An entire people is being compared to criminal organizations” like Nazis and the KKK, Maric said. “The Croatians are peaceful people who respect Bob Dylan as an artist, but we must recall him that he can't make such remarks.”
He said that the group respects Dylan, but Croatians “do not want to be insulted."
So, the complaint has finally sparked a formal investigation in France, as do all charges of racism.
Coincidentally, Dylan recently received France’s Legion d'Honneur in Paris, the highest award for a civilian. He represents a “subversive cultural force that can change people and the world” for the French people, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti said, reports Reuters.
A rep for Dylan still hasn’t commented.
UPDATE: Ivan Jurasinovi, a lawyer for the Croat group, told the Guardian that they would drop the suit if Dylan issues a formal apology.
"The aim is not to hurt anyone but to hopefully have him say that he didn’t mean what he said and that he regrets it," he said. "He is hugely popular in Croatia and it hurts more to be insulted by someone you appreciate."
image: Rolling Stone