The highest court in France has reinstated a ban on a show by controversial comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, just before it was due to open.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls appealed to the Council of State to intervene minutes after a judge in the city of Nantes overturned the ban.
The comic has seven convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech.
He has already arrived at the theatre in Nantes, where more than 5,000 people were due to see the show.
Police have deployed outside the venue as a precaution. The verdict was greeted with boos and chants of Dieudonne’s name by those who had gathered to see the show.
On his Facebook page, Dieudonne appealed to those gathered outside Nantes’ Zenith theatre to return peacefully to their homes, saying he had been denied permission to address them.
He said that on Friday he would post a new video on his YouTube channel.
The judge in Nantes had earlier said he did not regard the show, entitled The Wall, as having “an attack on human dignity as its main object”.
But the Council of State upheld the ban on Thursday’s performance, the first on a scheduled tour, despite a challenge by the comic’s lawyers saying his freedom of expression had been breached.
The council cited the risk to public order in its reinstatement of the ban.
The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, had called on France to “confront this preacher of hate head on”.
The government can be satisfied that a man they regard as a dangerous anti-Semite has been kept from the public arena, the BBC’s Hugh Schofield reports from Paris.
Dieudonne’s supporters will say it is just more evidence of how he and his ideas are silenced by the system, he adds.
‘Peddlers of hate’
French media who have sent reporters to previous performances of the The Wall say it contained a string of derogatory references to Jews.
Speaking on Thursday from Brittany, Mr Valls said that “peddlers of hate stop at nothing and show boundless creativity”.
“Faced with this creativity of hate, should we do nothing? Certainly not. The status quo is not a solution,” he said.
The French government made a concerted effort to stop the tour after Dieudonne was recorded making remarks about Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen.
“When I hear him talking, I say to myself: Patrick Cohen, hmm… the gas chambers… what a shame,” Dieudonne was recorded as saying. – extract from bbc.co.uk