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Controversial French Comedian Convicted Of Condoning Terrorism

French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala gestures to the media as he leaves a Paris court house Feb. 4. He was convicted today of condoning terrorism after the attacks in January in Paris, and given a suspended sentence.

Controversial French comedian Dieudonne has been found guilty of condoning terrorism and given a two-month suspended sentence.

The comedian faced up to seven years in prison and a fine for his Facebook post after the deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

As we've previously reported, Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who is known by one name only, had posted "Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly" ("I feel like Charlie Coulibaly") on Facebook, an apparent reference to Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people at a kosher market in Paris on Jan. 9. The post was similar to "Je suis Charlie," the message of solidarity that people shared after the attack on Charlie Hebdo by Islamist extremists on Jan. 7. The magazine had been targeted for its cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

During his trial, the comedian told the court he condemned the attack on the weekly "without any restraint and without any ambiguity." But he said the Facebook post was meant to show how he often feels treated like a terrorist.

Dieudonne is a controversial figure in France and has been fined for hate speech. Two years ago, the government tried to shut down his comedy shows, which have been labeled racist and anti-Semitic. But he says his comedy targets everyone, and that he's anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.

But his trademark gesture, which is known as a "quenelle," is a straight-arm salute. Critics call it a reverse Nazi salute, but the comedian denies that.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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