President Nicholas Sarkozy says having his voodoo doll is okay as long as you don’t stick pins in him.
By Peter Allen
A court has ruled that a voodoo doll of French president Nicolas Sarkozy is legal – as long as no-one sticks a pin in it.
The diminutive president had tried to ban the life-like toys, claiming they are disrespectful and make him look stupid.
But the Paris appeals court ruled that they are perfectly legitimate, as long as they come with a warning.
In a judgement released at the weekend, the court ruled that the doll fell ‘within the authorised limits of free expression and the right to humour.’
But ‘spearing the doll according to the instructions and with the provided needles – an action that evokes physical harm albeit symbolic – constitutes an offence to the dignity of Mr Sarkozy.’
The court ruled that banning the doll would be ‘disproportionate and inadequate.’
Instead, the court ordered Tear Prod – the company behind the novelty – to add a warning label on the box describing the doll as an offence to the dignity of the president.
Tear Prod was also ordered to pay the symbolic sum of one euro in damages to Mr Sarkozy.
Widely available on the Internet, the doll is emblazoned with some of Sarkozy’s most memorable quotes.
These include ‘Get lost arsehole!’, which Sarkozy used against a man who refused to shake his hand at a Paris trade show last year.
Tear Prod’s publishing company K and B expressed relief in a statement and said it had asked all outlets with dolls in stock to get in contact with them to arrange for the special labels.
It said it was planning to distribute a new batch of 20,000 dolls – with labels – from December 15.
Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog said he was ‘absolutely satisfied’ by the ruling, adding that he would even consult with his client on possible further action.
Mr Herzog argued during the appeals ruling that inciting people to stick needles in the Sarkozy doll went ‘far beyond’ satire and was tantamount to ‘incitement to hatred.’
The case was the president’s sixth lawsuit since he was elected last year.
The president and first lady Carla Bruni won a case against Ryanair in February after the Irish budget airline had used a photograph of the couple in a newspaper advertisement.
Some 20,000 Sarkozy voodoo dolls have been sold along with a similar doll made in the image of Socialist politician Segolene Royal, who was his rival for the presidency in last year’s elections.
Mr Royal has not sued, saying: ‘I have a sense of humour’.