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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

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.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs