Mayor of Paris, minister call for ban on French comedian Dieudonne

Poster of Dieudonne’s Le Mur at the entrance of the theatre

The mayor of Paris is also calling for comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, known for his anti-Jewish humour, to be banned from performing in public.

France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, voiced his displeasure first in wanting Dieudonne, as he is known, banned from the stage.

The well-known comedian, started out years ago with a Jewish partner in sketches that mocked racism.

But in 1997, he fell out with Elie Semoun over money owed to him.

He has now joined the political right and alienated some fans with anti-Jewish comments. Dieudonne maintains that most people find joking about blacks in order, but not humour about Jews.

His latest joke about gas chambers has irked Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who likened Dieudonne to a criminal who “defends crimes against humanity”.

“We must ban the performances” he said, echoing recent comments made by interior minister Valls. Valls himself has been accused of discrimination after he said in September that Roma did not want to integrate.

Dieudonne has already been fined a couple of times for defamation, insults, hate speech and racial discrimination, and over his salute, called the “quenelle”.

The “quenelle” has been used by several personalities since, including footballer Nicolas Anelka, who recently used it to celebrate a goal.

But the 47-year-old comedian says the Holocaust gets too much attention to the exclusion of other crimes.

Valls, meanwhile, has said he wants to ban performances by Dieudonne on his nationwide tour this month, after the comedian joked about Jewish radio presenter Patrick Cohen.

“When I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I tell myself, you know, the gas chambers… A shame,” joked Dieudonne.

Despite the criticism, the comedian has scores of die-hard fans who feel he is unjustly being hounded by the media and politicians.

Dieudonne’s official page has 466,000 likes.

He won fans by exposing a well-known Jewish author’s denials of ethnic focus as flimsy and insincere.

The French-born son of a Cameroonian father and a white mother, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala shot to fame in the 1990s in a double-act with his childhood friend Semoun.

He stood for EU-wide elections in 2009 on an anti-Zionist platform, describing Holocaust commemorations as “memorial pornography”.

But his shows at a small theatre in Paris that he manages attract packed audiences.

At his show on Thursday, the comedian joked about “kippa city” and “the banking slave master” to general hilarity.