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.
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.”

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
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"
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs