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French comic Dieudonné handed jail sentence

A French court handed controversial French comedian Dieudonné a two-month suspended jail sentence on Wednesday for condoning terrorism after a comment suggesting he sympathised with one of the jihadists who attacked Paris.

French comic Dieudonné handed jail sentence
French comedian Dieudonne, who was handed a suspended jail sentence this week. Photo: AFP

The polemicist was arrested on January 14 after writing "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly" on Facebook, a mix of the slogan "Je suis Charlie" that became a global rallying cry against extremism and Amedy Coulibaly, one of the assailants who killed a policewoman and four Jews.

His arrest was one of dozens of cases opened for "condoning terrorism" or "making threats to carry out terrorist acts" after the attackers killed 17 people in the January 7-9 shooting spree that also targeted satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The comedian is a controversial figure who has often made headlines, most notably with his trademark "quenelle" hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute, but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

But his arrest — and that of other people, some of whom were sent straight to jail for one to four years — raised questions about free speech in France.

The prosecutor had called for a fine of 30,000 euros ($31,000), which if he fails to pay up could turn into a prison sentence.

During the trial, prosecutor Annabelle Philippe said Dieudonne had presented "in a favourable light the acts committed by Amedy Coulibaly".

But Dieudonne said he "condemned the attacks without any restraint and without any ambiguity".

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TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

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