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Dieudonné to perform in Paris under close watch
Dieudonné is to perform in Paris on Monday amid intense scrutiny of his new show. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Dieudonné to perform in Paris under close watch

Joshua Melvin · 13 Jan 2014, 17:18

Published: 13 Jan 2014 17:18 GMT+01:00

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Following bans across France on allegations of anti-Semitism, provocative comic Dieudonné will take the stage on Monday night in Paris to perform a new show.

Paris's police chief, who has Ok'd the performance at Dieudonné's Main d'Or theater, promised his office would closely scrutinise the matierial in his new production "Asu Zoa," French newspaper Libération reported.

Dieudonné's previous show "The Wall," was banned in a number of French towns and cities over increasing concern that the comic was using his performances to preach anti-Semitic hate. The French government branded the comic a "peddlar of hate" for his diatribes against Jews.

Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, which is his full name, announced on Saturday he would instead present "Asu Zoa" on a "different theme", his lawyer Jacques Verdier told AFP.

The new show is to include dance, music, mime "and a few tai-chi moves", the 47-year-old Dieudonne said on his Facebook page, adding that he had written the show in three nights.

The comedian has called on his supporters in a video to buy DVDs of his previous show "in massive numbers".

"The more of you there is, the more I can continue this fight," he said, adding that French Interior Minister Manuel "Valls has declared war against me".

Should France ban Dieudonné's shows?

Preview performances of his "The Wall" tour in Paris included a sketch in which the comedian mimed urinating against a wall. He then reveals that it was the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Amid the legal tussles over the show, Dieudonné announced in the same video that he has come up with "Asu Zoa".

Dieudonné's supporters, and even some who reject his brand of humour but defend his right to express himself, have displayed concern over the clampdown, saying that is a troubling breach of freedom of speech.

But French government lawyers argue that the comedian's act is fundamentally racist and thus cannot be afforded protection under France's constitutional provisions on freedom of speech.

Valls vowed on Saturday that he would "never allow words that divide the French".

Dieudonné has been fined several times for defamation, using insulting language, hate speech and racial discrimination.

But the comedian argues that the horrors of the Holocaust are given too much focus to the exclusion of other crimes, like slavery and racism, and says his so-called "quenelle" gesture merely represents his anti-establishment views.

He has directed volleys of abuse at prominent French Jewish performers, rounding off one rant about radio presenter Patrick Cohen with the observation: "Gas chambers ... a shame."

Following bans across France on allegations of anti-Semitism, provocative comic Dieudonné will take the stage Monday in Paris with a new show.

Dieudonné has also been slammed for his trademark "quenelle" stiff-arm gesture, which has been described as a disguised Nazi salute.

Story continues below…

The gesture, which Dieudonné insists is purely an "up yours" to the French establishment, has taken on a life of its own.

Some people have been caught on camera doing the quenelle at Auschwitz or outside synagogues in France.

On Saturday afternoon, a handful of Dieudonne's supporters gathered on Faubourg-Saint-Antoine street in central Paris chanting "Dieudo, Dieudo". A woman aged about 60 joined in the demonstration, crying "Long live the Jewish dictatorship!".

Dieudonné started his career as part of a double act with a Jewish childhood friend, Elie Semoun.

But he veered towards anti-Semitism and the change burst into the open in 2003, when he concluded a televised sketch for which he had dressed up as an extremist Jew with a Nazi salute.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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