Paris mayor latest politician to call for ban on French comic

Mayor likens Dieudonne to criminal who "defends crimes against humanity"; comedian's theater target of bomb threat.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 5, 2014 21:03
2 minute read.
Dieudonne M'bala M'bala

French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala. (photo credit: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

 
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The mayor of Paris called for French comedian Dieudonne to be banned from the stage, reported AFP on Sunday.

Speaking on Europe 1 radio, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe likened Dieudonne to a criminal who "defends crimes against humanity."

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Reiterating recent comments made by Interior Minister Manuel Valls, Delanoe said, "We must ban the performances [of the comedian]."

Dieudonne, who has been a fixture of the French comedy scene for years, has been repeatedly fined for hate speech and racial discrimination.

At one of his shows on Thursday, the comedian performed for 75 minutes, regularly railing against "the Jews", "Jewish people", "kippa city", or "the banking slave master" to general hilarity, reported an AFP journalist who was at the show.

Recent controversy over the comedian's provocative "quenelle" arm gesture, which has become a cultural phenomenon in France, has stolen the spotlight in France and abroad.

The gesture has gone viral on social media, with mostly young fans displaying it at parties and sporting events.

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The quenelle has been described as an upside down Nazi salute, although Dieudonne says it stands for his anti-Zionist and anti-establishment views, not anti-Semitism.

He has also visited Iran and professed admiration for its leaders, described Holocaust commemorations as "memorial pornography" recently implied that veteran French-Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen belonged in a gas chamber.

However, there has been backlash against Dieudonne's behavior and the spread of the quenelle.

A bomb threat was made last Thursday against the Main D’Or theater, which Dieudonne operates, in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, according to MetroNews.fr. Police rushed to the scene but found no explosives.

Performances by Dieudonne have been targeted in the past by activists of the Ligue de Defense Juive, the local branch of the JDL.

Last week, six men believed to be linked to JDL were arrested in Lyon for allegedly assaulting two individuals who posted online pictures of themselves performing the quenelle.

France has Europe's largest Jewish minority, estimated at about 600,000, but has also seen a steady emigration to Israel of Jews who say they no longer feel safe there.

Dieudonne, 46, Paris-born son of a Cameroonian father and French mother, began his comedy career with a Jewish sidekick in the early 1990s and appeared in several films.

Originally active with anti-racist left-wing groups, he began openly criticizing Jews and Israel in 2002 and ran in the European elections two years later with a pro-Palestinian party.

JTA and Reuters contributed to this report.

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