French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala. REUTERS/Gonzalo
A French comedian said today 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
"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
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
"I am not a Nazi, I am not anti-Semitic," Dieudonne said on
Originally active with left-wing anti-racist groups,
Dieudonne began openly criticising Jews and Israel in 2002
and ran in European elections two years later for a
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
"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