Thai Nightclub Cancels Performance by Comedian Dieudonne Amid Fears of Antisemitic Routine, Offense to Jewish Community
A nightclub in Thailand cancelled a scheduled performance by French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala amid concerns over material in his act that may have been potentially offensive to Jews, the local newspaper Phuket Gazette reported on Tuesday.
A legal representative for the Illuzion nightclub in Phuket, where the show was slated to be held last month, said that the governor of Phuket contacted one of the club’s owners the night before the show and requested that it be cancelled, due to “the unknown content of Dieudonn่e’s speech, which could have disappointed and hurt the Jewish community.”
The legal aide said Illuzion was told that Simon Roded, the Israeli ambassador to Thailand and Cambodia, made a “direct request” to Thailand’s prime minister to cancel the show by M’bala M’bla, who has been convicted a number of times for antisemitism and hate speech. The prime minister then contacted the Phuket governor, who relayed the request to Illuzion’s owners and explained the situation.
“Illuzion immediately cancelled the contract for renting its space to the event organizer,” the legal representative said. “Illuzion management would like to apologize to the Jewish community for the accident and welcome the Israeli ambassador to make direct contact with the Illuzion team for any clarification.”
Ambassador Roded confirmed to the Phuket Gazette that he had contacted Thai officials and asked them to cancel the performance. He told the publication, “Dieudonne was convicted several times in the past years by courts in France and Belgium for crimes of hate speech, Holocaust denial, antisemitism, racism and more. Many venues in Europe have forbidden his performances due to their offensive nature and his criminal records.”
Roded said he “highly appreciated” the quick response by Thai authorities and the club’s decision to cancel the comedian’s show. He added, “In recent years, we have indeed witnessed an improvement in awareness and sensitivity in Thailand on the topics of Holocaust denial, antisemitism, racism and so on.”
M’bala M’bala was sentenced to two months in jail last year by a Belgian court for racist and antisemitic comments he made during a 2012 show in Belgium. He was also convicted in March for a Facebook post that suggested sympathy with one of the gunmen behind the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. The comedian has been arrested at least 38 times for violating French hate-speech laws, according to the Phuket Gazette.
Earlier this year, M’bala M’bala traveled to Hong Kong to perform two shows, but was detained upon arrival and deported.