Strauss-Kahn is modern-day Dreyfus, says Bernard-Henri Lévy

Alfred Dreyfus

Alfred Dreyfus

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy has compared the attitude towards Dominique Strauss-Kahn to the antisemitism encountered by a Jewish artillery officer in 19th century France.

Mr Lévy, a close friend of the former International Monetary Fund chief executive, and one of the first to defend him after his arrest, said he was not suggesting that the charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn were in any way motivated by anti-Jewish sentiment.

But writing on the Daily Beast, he said that there were parallels with the public vilification of Mr Strauss - Kahn and the trial of Alfred Dreyfus.

Captain Dreyfus, who was arrested on treason charges in 1894, was court - martialled, convicted and stripped of his rank.

He was then – in front of a crowd of 20,000 – sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island in South America.

Captain Dreyfus was exonerated a decade later, but the case prompted outrage from a number of intellectuals including writer Emile Zola, who claimed he had been made a scapegoat because of his religion.

During the trial a contemporary of Dreyfus, Maurice Barrès, famously said: "That Dreyfus is guilty, I deduce not from the facts themselves, but from his race." Mr Lévy commented that he believed we were now seeing "the appearance of a new variation on Maurice Barrès's phrase" – one motivated by economic status.

He wrote: "[It] has become, 'That X-in this case Dominique Strauss-Kahn-is guilty, I deduce not from his race, but from his class'."

    Last updated: 12:20pm, July 6 2011