Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Despite Court Approval, Dieudonné Banned From Performing

The infamous anti-Semitic comedian, responsible for originating the quenelle, was banned from performing in Nantes hours after a court said that he could

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: January 10th, 2014 in News » World

Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, the French comic known for popularizing the “inverted Nazi salute” the ‘quenelle’ was banned from performing on Thursday night in Nantes, only hours after a French court said that he could.

The conflicting rulings resulted in confusion outside the Zenith Theatre, with riot police carrying shields coming into block access. Unimpressed, ticket holders chanted and hissed.

The 47-year-old Dieudonneé, who has received more than half a dozen convictions for inciting racial hatred or anti-Semitism in his shows, some of which include his deriding of the Holocaust, has been making constant headlines as of late, particularly after San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker and West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka both, on separate occasions, posed for photos while making the quenelle salute.

Despite increased pressure to opt out of performing, Dieudonné insists that his act and the “quenelle” are not anti-Semitic, but rather, anti-establishment.

Thursday’s show being cancelled involved multiple levels of French administration becoming involved, including the Council of State – which is the country’s highest administrative body – a court in Nantes, and Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Valls has been campaigning to have Dieudonné barred from performing in France, and has decried that that Dieudonné spreads the “mechanics of hate.”

The city of Nantes had initially banned Dieudonné’s performance, which was overturned by a court early on Thursday. Valls took the matter to the Council of State, asking for an urgent decision, saying “In the face of mechanics of hate…we need firmness and determination and great calm.”

Two hours before the show was to begin, and citing a risk to public safety, the Council banned the performance, brushing aside claims that Dieudonné would change his show to avoid offensive language, and saying that a “serious risk” of “grave attacks” to French values could not be dismissed.

Valls spoke grandly of the decision, saying that France had ‘been made stronger’ by the decision to keep Dieudonné off the stage, and that “the combat against the nauseating words of this personage continues.”

“Citizens should not go to these shows,” he added.

Dieudonné did not have an immediate response, as he had arrived thinking he would be allowed to perform following the earlier court decision. Subsequent to the higher decision being made, he asked that his fans avoid confrontation and go home singing the French national anthem. The fans and police soon dispersed.

Despite the lengths gone to to cancel the Nantes show, a larger legal drama may be beginning. The Nantes show was to be the first of a national tour, with eight of the 30 cities planned known to have banned him from performing. Dieudonné has expressed his intention to fight them one by one.

Serge Klarsfeld, a well-known Nazi hunter, decried the comedian being allowed to perform as “intolerable,” noting ongoing problems in France. “We have a country in which anti-Semitism is freely accepted” he said.

Last fall, Dieudonné was convicted for using the word “Shoananas,” a mash up of the Hebrew word for Holocaust-Shoah- and the French word for pineapple. On Thursday, some fans showed up carrying pineapples.

Last week, an investigation was opened after Dieudonné allegedly made an anti-Semitic slur towards a Jewish journalist .

“When I hear him (the journalist) talk, you see…I say to myself, gas chambers… a pity,” said Dieudonné.

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