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January 10, 2014 10:08 am

ADL Praises France for Crackdown on Anti-Semitic Comic Dieudonné

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French anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne (right), demonstrating the "quenelle."

The Anti-Defamation League on Friday praised the decision by France’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative law appellate court, to uphold local government bans on the new show of Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, the French comedian known for the quenelle, lately described as a “reverse Nazi salute,” and an anti-Semitic routine created to skirt France’s tough hate speech laws.

“The French government’s actions and the Court of State’s decision represent a forceful commitment to combat anti-Semitism,” Abraham Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement. “Standing up in the face of hatred is the best antidote in a democratic society.”

The Council of State decision comes after a long series of hate speech cases where the comedian was charged with “incitement for hate speech.”

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The ADL said, “Dieudonné is well aware of the laws in France, having been convicted multiple times for his anti-Semitic statements. He chose to brazenly ignore them and provoke the authorities. While we believe criminalizing hate speech is antithetical to the U.S. constitutional protection of speech, we understand and respect that different legal norms are prevalent in European democracies.”

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls had recommended to local governments to preserve public order by banning performances of Dieudonné’s new show, “The Wall,” which the Interior Ministry said contains anti-Semitic statements against several Jewish individuals and “virulent and shocking attacks on the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.”

While many cities banned the show, Dieudonné sued to overturn a ban in the city of Nantes, where the first public performance was to take place. The Nantes court ruled in favor of Dieudonné, and the Council of State overruled the Nantes court’s decision.

On its website, the ADL published several other condemnations of the comedian from within France.

The Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of France’s Black Associations (CRAN) said, “For a long time, Dieudonné fought against racism and the far right. We still remember with emotion his actions in the town of Dreux. But for several years his main fight seems to be against the Jews of France, and he is closer and closer to the far right, his former enemies. The CRAN has noticed this evolution with dismay and can only deplore it. (…) The CRAN calls on the Blacks of France not to accept the quenelle or the appeals to anti-Semitism…”

French Coun­cil of the Mus­lim Faith (CFCM) President Dalil Boubakeur condemned the use of the quenelle by French soccer player and Dieudonné-friend, Nico­las Anelka, saying he opposed “all anti-Semitic or racist acts or statements in sports.”

Even the owners of Dieudonné’s home theater, La Main d’Or, in Paris, are looking for legal means to end his lease, the ADL said.

French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande said, “No one should be able to use this show for provo­ca­tion and to promote openly anti-Semitic ideas.”

Inte­rior Min­is­ter Manuel Valls said, “Dieudonné is deeply anti-Jewish. We must carry out a political campaign to mobilize society against him.”

French Culture Minister Aurélie Fil­ip­petti said, “Mr. Dieudonné is no longer a comedian. He has become a Holocaust denier and revisionist.”

French Justice Minister Chris­tiane Taubira called Dieudonné a “pitiful buffoon” and “recidivist anti-Semite.”

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