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Paris' Mayor joins ranks of politicians against French comic Dieudonné

Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë calls for ban on controversial comic
Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë calls for ban on controversial comic AFP/Martien Bureau

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë has come out against the controversial comic Dieudonné M'bala M'bala whose trademark gesture of an inverted Nazi salute has alienated many and sparked fervent debates beyond France.

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“Did our elders fight for civilized values for us to cowardly surrender them to criminals?” Delanoë asked on the “Grand Rendez-vous” with Europe 1, iTELE and Le Monde.

“We are in 2014, the year of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris, France and the camps,” he said, adding that Dieudonné is a person who glorifies these crimes against humanity.

Known usually by his first name, Dieudonné’s shows laden with vitriolic humour and what he calls anti-Zionist, rather than anti-Semitist remarks, have drew the ire of the French government – including French Interior Minister Manuel Valls – which is currently trying to ban his shows on the premise of inciting disorderly public conduct.

“He must be fought with all the rigors of the law,” said Delanoë, adding that freedom of expression must be respected but within the boundaries of human dignity.

Born in Paris to a Cameroonian father and French mother, Dieudonné once garnered thousands of fans to his shows absent of hateful lines and actually appealed to left-wing crowds.

He created sketches with his former childhood friend and Jewish comic Elie Semoun that tackled discrimination and racism.

But a departure to the far-right in the early to mid-2000s saw him lash out at Jews and belittle and make fun of the Holocaust during his shows and public appearances.

In 2009, he ran on an anti-Zionist platform in the European elections and made Jean-Marie le Pen, the founder of the National Front Party, the godfather of his son.

A week ago the comic shocked many – and not for the first time – as he said of a well-known Jewish journalist: "Me, you see, when I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I think to myself: 'Gas chambers ... too bad (they no longer exist)."

Dieudonné – which means “god given” – has been put on trial numerous times for racial slurs and has personally described himself as “non-Jewish, non-Muslim, not really black and not really white.”

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