News / Europe

French Comedian Drops Show Deemed Anti-Semitic

French controversial humorist Dieudonne Mbala Mbala arrives for a trial at the Paris courthouse on December 13, 2013 on the charges of defamation, insults, incentive to hate and discrimination.
French controversial humorist Dieudonne Mbala Mbala arrives for a trial at the Paris courthouse on December 13, 2013 on the charges of defamation, insults, incentive to hate and discrimination.
Reuters
A French comedian said on Saturday he had dropped a show banned for its anti-Semitic language, and was planning one that would cause no objections.
 
On Friday, France's highest administrative court upheld a ban on a show by the black comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala in the central city of Tours, days after it was also banned in the western city of Nantes.
 
Dieudonne said in a statement that his lawyers would continue to defend the banned show in court, and that his new show, about Africa, would have none of the language that the courts found objectionable.
 
“We live in a democratic country and I have to comply with the laws, despite the blatant political interference. As a comedian, I have pushed the debate to the very edge of laughter,” Dieudonne said in a statement on French television.
 
Dieudonne, 46, has been repeatedly fined for “hate speech”, and local authorities in several towns have barred his shows as a threat to public order.
 
Interior Minister Manuel Valls has urged local authorities to take a hard line in determining whether or not to ban the show. Dieudonne had been due to perform in the city of Orleans on Saturday, but the show was cancelled by a local court following a request by the mayor.
 
Jacques Verdier, one of Dieudonne's lawyers, told the television channel iTele that the new show would not run foul of the courts.
 
“Let him work now,” he said.
 
Dieudonne's lawyers have repeatedly said the bans infringe his right to freedom of speech.
 
Critics say the comedian's trademark downward straight-arm gesture is a Nazi salute in reverse. Dieudonne counters that it is meant to be anti-Zionist and anti-establishment, but not anti-Semitic.
 
“I am not a Nazi, I am not anti-Semitic,” Dieudonne said on Saturday.
 
Originally active with left-wing anti-racist groups, Dieudonne began openly criticizing Jews and Israel in 2002 and ran in European elections two years later for a pro-Palestinian party.
 
The founder of the French far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has said he is the godfather of one of Dieudonne's children, but his daughter Marine Le Pen - who now runs the party - has kept her distance from the comedian.
 
The Jewish comedian Elie Semoun, with whom Dieudonne formed a popular comic duo in the mid-90s, said he did not understand the turn his old friend had taken.
 
“We worked together for 15 years. How did you support me for so long?” Semoun said in a short act on French TV on Saturday.
 
“When Dieudo and I started out together, we were the very symbol of anti-racism, to the point that I forgot that I was black and he was Jewish,” Semoun said. “Too bad, I loved being black.”

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by: Michael
January 11, 2014 7:02 PM
Wait a minute. In France, there is no freedom of speech? I thought there was freedom of speech in France. You get fined for hate speech? Are you serious? How? The French government has not only vomited Hate speech and promoted Hate against Muslims (Islamophobia) and against Arabs (Orientalism/Eurocentrism), but it's even legislated laws that practiced it. How in the hell do they now have the ground to claim that what somebody is doing is then hate speech? That's like a felonious criminal telling a guy who stole a pack of gum, "what you did was wrong."

by: Anthony tobia from: Ny
January 09, 2014 7:22 PM
What ever happened to freedom of speech? Your doing the same thing your bashing the guy for. You just insulted a group of people. So it's ok to do that to everyone else except for Jews? The world isn't stupid anymore and until you get off your righteous pedestal than you gotta let him say what he wants.
In Response

by: Marcus from: WI
January 11, 2014 2:41 PM
Different country Anthony. Freedom of Speech is a USA thing, not a world thing.

by: Jean-Louis D. from: Paris, France
January 09, 2014 7:18 PM
The court ("Tribunal Administratif") indeed suspended the ban based on stable legal precedence (free speech, say), yet an urgent appeal presented by authorities to the upper level ("Conseil d'Etat") resulted in a temporary injunction to restore the ban. The show was cancelled, and the said Conseil d'Etat will probably have to issue a regular ruling regarding this question (the requested / granted temporary injunction was delivered within a few hours by a single judge bypassing due process etc...). If confirmed, the hastily obtained injunction would revert long-standing precedence, so it would not be suprising to see the final decision fallback to the initial ruling, which essentially said: you cannot ban a show due to freedom of speech etc. but you can / must act when the said speech isn't compliant with enforcable laws.

In my humble opinion, what this 'comedian' utters on a weekly basis is offensive enough to warrant prosecution resulting in hefty fines worth ten times his current backlog of almost 100 K$ in still unpaid civil compensation for past racist public statements.
Unfortunately, our clogged courts are just too slow to deal with the excessive "offense rate" of this douchebag.

by: BH from: Chicago
January 09, 2014 6:35 PM
By the time this story hit the Internet, the French Council of State has already overturned the Nantes ruling and the show was shut down.

by: Anonymous
January 09, 2014 6:08 PM
A black Nazi, fancy that!

by: Frenchgirl from: Chicago
January 09, 2014 6:00 PM
It is the contrary. They confirmed the ban...Check your facts...

by: Sharon12345 from: Syracuse,NY,USA
January 09, 2014 5:53 PM
If this comedian were a Muslim would he take it lightly if jokes were made about Mohammed? The willful murder of 6 million Jews is not a joking event. What next? Humor in crib death? Laughter about plane crashes? Giggles about malnutrition? There is a point where something is beyond offensive. This comedian has reached that point.
In Response

by: Marcus from: WI
January 11, 2014 2:43 PM
All of those things do have jokes made about them. Even the absolute most despicable things can have humor made about them. Even if you are offended it wont stop that some people will make jokes about them, they will joke about everything and anything.
In Response

by: two cents from: europe
January 11, 2014 6:47 AM
Sharon: 'laughter about plane crashes?' There was laughter about plane crashes. Did you forget the five dancing israelis when two planes crashed into the WTC towers.

by: D J Read from: London
January 09, 2014 5:46 PM
Questioning the Holocaust is not anti semetic.
You should Google Cigpapers blog "Holocuast or holohoax" its filled with little known facts about it.
And what does Nigel.B mean by "Arabs all over"

by: Bilal from: USA
January 09, 2014 5:30 PM
So it is ok publish insulting cartoons and insult Muslims but not ok to insult the beloved Jews? Selective Free Speech!!! French are totally shameless.
In Response

by: Jean-Louis D. from: Paris, France
January 10, 2014 8:19 PM
False equivalence: insults are allowed under Free Speech, yet racially motivated hate speeches are not (same in France and United States AFAIK)

by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
January 09, 2014 3:54 PM
If I were to write a second book it would bear the title "On the causes of the third world war in Western Europe and the rise of fascism"
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