News / Europe

France May Ban Black Comedian for Hate Speech

(File) French humorist Dieudonne M'bala M'bala at the French Interior Ministry in Paris, France on May 13, 2009.
(File) French humorist Dieudonne M'bala M'bala at the French Interior Ministry in Paris, France on May 13, 2009.
Reuters
France is considering banning performances by a black comedian whose shows have repeatedly insulted the memory of Holocaust victims and could threaten public order, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday.
 
He said his ministry is studying legal ways to ban shows by Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, a comedian repeatedly fined for hate speech who ran in the 2009 European Parliament elections at the head of an “Anti-Zionist List” including far-right activists.
 
Valls announced the move after Jewish groups complained to President Francois Hollande about Dieudonne's trademark straight-arm gesture, which they call a “Nazi salute in reverse” and link to a growing frequency of anti-Semitic remarks and acts in France.
 
“Dieudonne M'bala M'bala doesn't seem to recognize any limits any more,” Valls said in a statement announcing the legal review aimed at banning his public appearances.
 
“From one comment to the next, as he has shown in several television shows, he attacks the memory of Holocaust victims in an obvious and unbearable way,” he said.
 
France has Europe's largest Jewish minority, estimated at about 600,000, but also sees a steady emigration to Israel of Jews who say they no longer feel safe here.
 
In the worst recent anti-Semitic incident, a French Islamist killed a rabbi and three pupils at a Jewish school last year in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.
 
Gesture goes viral
 
Dieudonne, as he is known on stage, has responded to the  criticism from prominent Jewish figures by threatening to sue them for linking his gesture - a downward straight arm touched at the shoulder by the opposite hand - to the Hitler salute.
 
He calls the gesture “la quenelle” - the word for an elongated creamed fish dumpling - and says it stands for his anti-Zionist and anti-establishment views, not anti-Semitism.
 
The gesture has gone viral on social media recently, with mostly young fans displaying it at parties and sports events. Some do it while in the audience at live television shows.
 
Two soldiers were sanctioned by the army in September for making the gesture in uniform in front of a Paris synagogue.
 
“It's the Nazi salute in reverse,” Roger Cukierman, head of the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organizations, said after complaining about it to Hollande last week.
 
“Very clearly, Mr. Dieudonne is developing a nearly professional anti-Semitism under the cover of telling jokes.”
 
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.
 
He has been fined several times in France for defaming Jews. Police broke up his one-man-show in a Brussels theater last year for suspected anti-Semitic hate speech, but he was not convicted.
 
When Radio France's Patrick Cohen asked on air last week if the media should pay so much attention to him, Dieudonne suggested the journalist should get ready to emigrate.
 
“When I hear Patrick Cohen speaking, I say to myself, you see, the gas chambers ... too bad,” he said.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs