France

Nazi-hunting family calls for protests against French comic Dieudonné

Arno Klarsfeld and his family have called for protests against the French comic
Arno Klarsfeld and his family have called for protests against the French comic RFI

A Nazi-hunting family has called on people to rise up against the controversial French comedian Dieudonné who has accrued large fines for fomenting hatred against Jews.

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Serge and Beate Klarsfeld and their son Arno will head to the western French city of Nantes on Wednesday where the comedian is to due perform an almost sold-out show the following day, according to Agence France Presse.

Dieudonné’s trademark gesture – an inverted down-arm salute – is seen as being Nazi-inspired and since 2000 the comedian has raked up seven defamation suits for using insulting language, hate speech and racial discrimination.

France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls is now exploring ways to legally prevent Dieudonné, whose full name is Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, from holding any performances.

Valls also vowed on Friday to ensure that Dieudonné, 47, pays the 65,000 euros resulting from fines for his vitriolic humour.

Just a decade ago Diedonné’s sketches were very different as the bearded comic rose to fame alongside Jewish comic Elie Semoun.

The duo took down the hard issues of racism and slavery with satire and good humour.

But from roughly 2004 onwards, he made a strong departure from his days as an anti-far right comedian.

Semoun now accuses his former partner of stealing his ideas and for far-exceeding the parameters of good humour and decency.

Dieudonné’s name gained wider attention this week after his gesture –called la quenelle or “the meat ball” – was seen mimicked on the field by French footballer Nicolas Anelka after scoring a goal.

Anelka has since agreed to not use it again on the field and the comic insists the gesture is not anti-Jewish, but anti-establishment.

Several French mayors from towns where the comedian is set to perform, including Marseilles and Nantes, have called for the shows to be banned.

“People who go to see Dieudonné go there to hear Jew-bashing,” said Arno Klarsfeld to Agence France Presse ahead his family’s call for a protest.

The family added that the comic unites anti-Semites from all sides.

"They are Islamists, ultra-left or far-right...His shows are anti-Semitic political rallies," Klarsfeld said.

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