French President's Appeal to Remove Hot-Selling Voodoo Dolls of Himself Denied By Court

A Paris court has seen a funny side to hot-selling voodoo dolls of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, refusing his lawyer's request to order them pulled from sale.

Sarkozy's attorney had argued that the president — like any French person — owns the right to his own image under the law. But publishing house K&B Editions, which markets the doll, said humor is part of freedom of expression.

The court ruled Wednesday in the firm's favor, saying the doll was deliberately aimed to be "satire and humor."

"Nicolas Sarkozy: The Voodoo Manual" kit costs 12.95 euros ($16.54)and includes a handbook and 12 pins. The blue-colored doll shows Sarkozy's face on a body covered with some of his most famous — and infamous — quips.

The publishing house sells a similar doll of Socialist Segolene Royal, who lost to Sarkozy in presidential elections in 2007. She did not file suit.

In their ruling, the judges recognized that inciting people to stick pins in dolls may be distasteful to some but added that it was not their role to be arbiters of "good or bad taste."

They noted the "willingly fantastic and burlesque" way in which the accompanying manual tells users how to spike the doll, and said it targeted not Sarkozy himself but his "ideas and political positions, as well as his comments and public behavior."

The head of the publishing house, Jean-Francois Kowalski, told Associated Press Television News earlier this month the dolls were meant to be funny. He said Sarkozy's opposition to the doll was unexpected, "especially considering that back in 2006 the president declared that he would rather have more caricatures than more censorship."