New Show Green-Lit For Anti-Semitic Comic
AFP reported Monday that French comic Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, whose controversial show was banned over its anti-Semitic slant, has been given the green light to perform a replacement sketch in Paris.
Branded a "peddler of hate" by the French government, Dieudonne has been at the heart of a furor over sketches widely viewed as anti-Semitic that prompted local authorities to block shows in his nationwide "The Wall" tour at the request of Interior Minister Manuel Valls. The ban was also backed by French President Francois Hollande.
He tried to challenge the individual bans in court last week but failed, deciding instead to circumvent the ban by presenting an alternate performance called "Asu Zoa" focused on Africa.
"They (local authorities) indicated that the original show, 'The Wall', was banned and note that this is a new show," said Jacques Verdier, Dieudonne's lawyer, adding they had allowed it to go ahead on Monday in the French capital.
Now 47, Dieudonne started his career as part of a double act with a Jewish childhood friend, Elie Semoun.
But he veered towards anti-Semitism and the change burst into the open in 2003, when he concluded a televised sketch for which he had dressed up as a hareidi-religious man with a Nazi salute.
Dieudonne has been fined several times for defamation, using insulting language, hate speech and racial discrimination.
He has directed volleys of abuse at prominent French Jewish performers, rounding off one rant about radio presenter Patrick Cohen with the observation: "Gas chambers ... a shame."
Dieudonne has also been slammed for his trademark "quenelle" stiff-arm gesture, which has been described as a disguised Nazi salute but which he claims is merely an "up yours" to the French establishment.
That claim has been undermined, however, by the publication of pictures of Dieudonne fans performing quenelles outside synagogues, at a Holocaust museum and in front of the school in Toulouse where Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah killed a rabbi and three Jewish children in 2012.
Dieudonne's popularity - more than 5,000 tickets have been sold for the opening night of his tour - has exacerbated concern over the resurgence of anti-Semitism in France under the guise of a brand of anti-Zionism.
The gesture has landed several personalities in hot water, including soccer player Nicolas Anelka, who used it to celebrate a goal. NBA star Tony Parker apologized for his use of the same gesture, after a picture from three years ago of him making it alongside Dieudonne was posted in the French media.
According to a recent poll by research firm BVA, 83 percent of people in France have a bad opinion of Dieudonne, but just over half of these are against the bans on his "The Wall" tour. Many have expressed concern over what they say are breaches of freedom of speech.