France wins battle to ban 'anti-Semitic' comedianFrench comic who is considered anti-Semitic was banned from performing just hours after a court in Nantes said he could go ahead with his show
By Hannah Flint 8:31PM GMT 09 Jan 2014
A top court in France has upheld the ban on a performance by the controversial comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a move the government has hailed as a “victory” over anti-Semitism.
The decision comes less than two hours before the comedian was due to give the opening performance of his national tour in the western city of Nantes, despite his lawyers claiming a breach of his freedom of expression.
The ban had been lifted only yesterday by local judge Jean-Francois Molla who said that a perceived risk to public order could not be used to “justify as radical measure as banning the show”. However, France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, ruled that the show should be allowed to go ahead.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has led the campaign to ban the comedian’s performances, said: "We cannot tolerate hatred of others, racism, anti-Semitism or holocaust denial. That is not France. This is a victory for the Republic.”
The decision marks a landmark break with legal precedent in France, where previous attempts to ban Dieudonne from performing foundered against constitutional provisions on free speech.
The government has accused the comedian of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims, and his show has widely been condemned as anti-Semitic. He currently faces seven convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech as well as an investigation that he owes tax authorities more than 800,000 euros.
News of the decision was booed by Dieudonne’s fans who had assembled outside the venue where he was due to perform. Police vans are already camped out in Nantes after expectations that both supporters and opponents of the comedian will demonstrate this evening.
The 47-year-old comedian was due to give 22 shows as part of a national tour across France. The first was to be performed to 63,000 people at 43 euros a ticket. A government circular had recommended that local governments suspend Dieudonne’s show if they believed it could lead to criminal offences.
Bordeaux and Brittany followed suit in addition to Nantes. The ruling today leaves the rest of his tour uncertain.
However, many remain divided over whether the performances should be banned altogether. The League of Human Rights said a ban would “rally support for Dieudonne for those who consider themselves oppressed”.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10562264/France-wins-battle-to-ban-anti-Semitic-comedian.html