Paris (dpa) – The Croat association that brought a criminal complaint against singer Bob Dylan for comparing the treatment of Serbs by Croats to the treatment of Jews by Nazis said Tuesday it could withdraw the complaint if Dylan apologized.

Dylan has been charged with inciting hatred over his remarks in a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

In discussing race relations in the US the 72-year-old folk legend said: “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. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”

The Council of the Croat Community and Institutions of France (CRICCF) filed a complaint over the remarks, which triggered a formal investigation and charges.

American Singer Bob Dylan during his tour through West Germany at the Dortmunder Westfalenhalle, June 27, 1978. (AP Photo/Proepper)
American Singer Bob Dylan during his tour through West Germany at the Dortmunder Westfalenhalle, June 27, 1978. (AP Photo/Proepper)

Dylan was notified of the charges last month when he was in Paris to receive the Legion d’Honneur, one of France’s top honours, French media reported on Monday.

On Tuesday, the CRICCF said all it wanted was for the singer to apologize.

“We ask no more than that. That’s been clear from the start of our complaint,” the secretary-general of the council Vlatko Maric told dpa.

During World War II, Croatia was governed by a Nazi puppet regime, which applied Nazi racial laws and ran camps in which tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and other opponents were exterminated.

The ethnic hostility between Serbs and Croats erupted again in the late 1980s, leading to a conflict after Croatia split from Yugoslavia in 1991.

The two countries have filed genocide charges against each other at the International Court of Justice.

Explaining the council’s indignation Maric said: “The Croats were not compared to Americans and Germans; they were compared to the Ku Klux Klan and to the Nazis. Croat criminals do not represent all Croats.”

Asked whether the council would withdraw the complaint if Dylan apologized Maric said: “Everything is possible.”

In France, a person can withdraw a criminal complaint at any point in an investigation but the decision on whether to continue the proceedings is usually up to the prosecutor.

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