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French Comedian Drops Tour Amid Financial Probe, Content Bans

January 14, 2014 By:
JTA
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Anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala first used the controversial quenelle gesture in 2009. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Amid an investigation into his finances and bans on his shows because of anti-Semitic content, the French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala said he was abandoning his nationwide tour.

Dieudonne made the announcement on Jan. 11 at a news conference in which he appeared dressed in traditional West African garb.

“Today, a page is turned and I am switching to other things,” the comedian said in reference to his new show, “The Wall,” which he was supposed to take on tour beginning Jan. 9. The tour ground to a halt after France’s highest court upheld a ban on the show imposed by several municipalities.

His announcement also follows reports that French authorities suspect he is hiding revenues to avoid paying $89,000 in fines that have been imposed on him for inciting racial hatred against Jews, an offense for which he has been convicted seven times.

Legally speaking, Dieudonne is penniless and unable to pay the debts, yet his shows at the Main D’Or theatre in Paris are sold out, RTL reported.

French authorities reportedly suspect that he colluded with associates to give the impression of bankruptcy. In addition, on Jan. 7, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls was filmed saying that Dieudonne “was financed by Iran, after all.”

Dieudonne told reporters, “As we are living in a state with laws, of course one needs to conform to the law.” He spoke in a serious tone and without the false expressions of regret for spreading anti-Semitic ideas that have become his trademark in past appearances.

“In my work as a humorist, I have tried to push the boundaries of the public debate and of laughter, and the judiciary has expressed its position on this,” he said in reference to the Jan. 9 ruling by France’s highest court that banned him from performing in the western city of Nantes. “I have angered many people and I will continue to do so, through laughter.”

Despite his seven convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, Dieudonne said, “Clearly, I am not a Nazi, I’m not an anti-Semite.”

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