court backs ban on comedy show deemed anti-Semitic
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[January 10, 2014]
— A French court upheld a ban on a show scheduled in the
central city of Tours for Friday by a comedian accused of insulting
the memory of Holocaust victims, the second performance in a
nationwide tour to be banned.
A lawyer for comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala said he would
seek to appeal the decision, which came after the opening show
in the western city of Nantes was prohibited by a last-minute
court ruling on Thursday.
Dieudonne, 46, has been repeatedly fined for hate speech and
local authorities in several towns across France have barred his
shows on the grounds of risk to public order.
His lawyer, Jacques Verdier, has argued that a ban on his client
performing would breach his freedom of speech.
The appeals court's decision is a victory for Interior Minister
Manuel Valls and President Francois Hollande, who had called for
local authorities to take a hard line in determining whether or
not to ban the shows.
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Originally active with anti-racist left-wing groups,
Dieudonne began openly criticizing Jews and Israel in 2002 and ran
in the European elections two years later with a pro-Palestinian
Critics say the comic's trademark straight-arm gesture is a Nazi
salute in reverse. Dieudonne counters that it is anti-Zionist and
anti-establishment, but not anti-Semitic.
(Reporting by Mourad Guichard; writing
by Brian Love; editing by Mark John)
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