Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is set to go on trial for a Facebook comment appearing to back Paris gunman Amedy Coulibaly.
The comment referred to a series of three attacks in Paris in January in which 17 people were killed.
The controversial French Comedian is charged with condoning terrorism.
If found guilty, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala could face up to 7 years in jail and a €5,000 ($5,900) fine.
He already has several convictions for inciting anti-Semitism.
Following a massive march in Paris to condemn the attacks, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala wrote on his Facebook account: “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly [French: je me sens Charlie Coulibaly].”
The statement combined the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan adopted worldwide after the Paris attacks with the name of one of the three gunmen involved in the attacks.
AmedyCoulibaly killed a policewoman near a Jewish school on January 8 before going on to hold up kosher supermarket HyperCacher the following day, when he murdered four Jewish hostages.
On January 7, two gunmen killed 12 people at magazine Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that has frequently launched withering attacks on religion, including depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s comment drew an angry response from many in France.
French PM Manuel Valls said that freedom of speech should not be confused with anti-Semitism, racism and Holocaust denial.
After Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he had asked the authorities to investigate Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s remarks, the comedian posted a response on his Facebook page, arguing that he was being treated as a public enemy when all he wanted to do was make people laugh.
The comedian’s detention drew claims of double standards over free speech from some quarters in France.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is also facing an inquiry into whether he condoned terrorism in a video in which he mocked the beheading of US journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants.
He was acquitted last year over comments made in a video in which he called for the release of a man who tortured and murdered Ilan Halimi, a Jewish man, in Paris in 2006.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has attracted controversy over his trademark “quenelle” gesture. It has been called an inverted Nazi salute, but the comic argues it was intended to be anti-establishment.
Controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala was arrested on January 14 for “defending terrorism”.
Police opened an investigation into the comic on Janaury 12, after he wrote on a Facebook post “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” – merging Charlie Hebdo with the name of supermarket gunman Amedy Coulibaly.
Dieudonné M’Bala M’bala, 48, who was being held for questioning at a Paris police station, could face possible charges of “apology for terorism”.
After mocking the media superlatives about Sunday’s Paris unity march, Dieudonne declared: “As for me, I feel I am Charlie Coulibaly.”
Amedy Coulibaly was the man who took hostages and killed four people at the Jewish supermarket HyperCacher in eastern Paris on January 9 before being killed by police.
Dieudonné’s comments generated a wave of fury on the internet – including many angry reactions from his own fans on his Facebook page. His statement was withdrawn after less than an hour.
The French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, called the comment “abject” and asked his officials to investigate whether Dieudonne should be prosecuted for breaching a French law which forbids “apology for” or encouragement of terrorism.
PM Manuel Valls made an impassioned attack on Dieudonne in the National Assembly on January 13. He called him a “peddler of hate and said there should be no confusion between the <<impertinent>> satire of Charlie Hebdo and <<anti-semitism, racism and negationism>>.”
Dieudonné has several convictions for making anti-semitic comments and jokes. He came to international attention 12 months ago after the footballer Nicolas Anelka performed his trademark gesture the “quenelle” during a Premier League match.
The comedien’s stage show was banned a year ago, and had to be amended, because it contained “jokes” mocking the Holocaust. He also suggested that a Jewish radio presenter “reminded him of gas chambers”.
In an open letter to Bernard Cazeneuve, Dieudonne claimed on January 13 that he had been misunderstood. He said that he, like Charlie Hebdo, was a victim of attempts to deny freedom of speech. In his case, he said, his assailant was the government.
What he had meant to say on Facebook, he said, was that: “I am considered like another Amedy Coulibaly when in fact I am no different from Charlie.”
Dieudonne’s original statement on his Facebook page was: “After this historic, no legendary, march, a magic moment equal to the Big Bang which created the Universe, or in a smaller (more local) way comparable to the crowning of the (ancient Gaullish king) Vercingétorix, I am going home. Let me say that this evening, as far as I am concerned, I feel I am Charlie Coulibaly.”
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has been acquitted over a video where he called for the release of a man who tortured and murdered a Jew in 2006.
The court ruled it could not prove the controversial French comedian was behind the video’s release.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has convictions for inciting hatred against Jews, had faced a fine of 20,000 euros ($27,000) or 200 days in prison.
France recently banned one of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s shows over concerns about anti-Semitism.
The comedian already owes 65,000 euros in fines for six convictions of hate speech against Jews.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has been acquitted over a video where he called for the release of a man who tortured and murdered a Jew in 2006
Last week, police raided several properties owned by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala as part a probe into alleged fraud.
The government accused Dieudonne M’bala M’bala of trying to bankrupt himself in order to avoid paying the fines.
The comedian has caused controversy in recent months with what many regard as anti-Semitic comments.
He has joked about gas chambers and is accused of deriding Holocaust survivors and victims.
His trademark “quenelle” gesture has been described by some as an “inverted Nazi salute”.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala says the quenelle is an anti-establishment gesture, and denies that he is an anti-Semite, saying he is anti-Zionist.
In January, France’s highest court upheld a ban on Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s one-man show The Wall (Le Mur), which contained sketches including the performer miming urination against the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala’s properties have been raided by police as part of a fraud inquiry, French media report.
Police swooped on several properties owned by Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala as well as the Main d’Or theatre in Paris, where he has staged some of his shows.
The controversial comedian is suspected of a fraudulent declaration of bankruptcy, money-laundering and abuse of company assets.
The government has vowed to make Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala pay fines for hate speech.
According to French media, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala has transferred 400,000 euros ($547,000) to Cameroon since 2009 while failing to pay fines totalling 65,000 euros.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala has been convicted six times of hate speech against Jews and popularized a gesture called the “quenelle”, widely regarded as an inverted Nazi salute.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala’s properties have been raided by police as part of a fraud inquiry
Police have detained a man suspected of distributing a photo of a quenelle being made outside a Jewish school in the south-western city of Toulouse, where an Islamist gunman shot dead three small children and a teacher in March 2012, AFP news agency reports.
The man who was detained near Marseille on Tuesday is also suspected of distributing another image of a quenelle outside the Toulouse flat of the killer, Mohammed Merah, who died in a police siege.
Youths could be seen making quenelles at a rally against President Francois Hollande on Sunday in Paris, which was organized by small, mainly right-wing organizations.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls accused Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala of trying to bankrupt himself earlier this month in order to avoid paying the fines.
Police questioned the comedian last week after bailiffs reported being fired on with rubber bullets at his house.
The bailiffs had said they could not ascertain who had opened fire but a weapon was later found during a search of Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala ‘s property.
Earlier this month a ban on Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala ‘s one-man show The Wall (Le Mur) was upheld by France’s highest court.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls had taken strenuous steps to ban the show. Initial performances in Paris contained sketches including the performer miming urination against the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala was also recorded referring to the Holocaust in remarks about a Jewish journalist and mocking commemoration of the Nazi extermination of the Jews.
Comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, viewed as a dangerous anti-Semite by the French government, has appealed against a ban on his show, Le Mur (The Wall).
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala lodged the appeal with France’s highest court, the Council of State, after it overruled a provincial judge on Thursday and reinstated the ban.
The ban took effect as fans gathered for the first show of a tour, in the western city of Nantes on Thursday.
Authorities in other cities on the tour have also banned the performance.
Legal analysts say that while the Council of State decision applied specifically to Nantes, judges in other cities will have to take it into account and a flurry of further bans is likely.
Among the performances of The Wall which have been banned is one that was scheduled for the city of Tours on Friday.
Supporters of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala and critics of the bans accuse the authorities of denying the comic freedom of speech.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has appealed against a ban on his show
However, government lawyers argue that the fundamentally racist nature of his act means it cannot be afforded protection under France’s constitutional provisions on freedom of speech.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls wants Dieudonne M’bala M’bala kept off all stages in France, condemning the comic’s “mechanics of hate”.
PM Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was satisfied with the Council of State ban.
“What’s at stake is the struggle against the drift towards anti-Semitism in which Dieudonne was engaged,” he said on Friday.
“Over the course of time, each show leads to a spiraling out of control. And we can’t accept that in our society there is the slightest complacency with regards to anti-Semitism. It’s totally alien to our values and principles.”
Shocked fans booed outside the concert hall in Nantes, where more than 5,000 people had been due to see the show.
Some gave Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s trademark “quenelle” gesture, which is regarded by many as an inverted Nazi salute, while some brandished pineapples.
One of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s most notorious songs, Shoananas, roughly translates as Pineapple-Holocaust and mocks commemoration of the Nazi extermination of the Jews.
France’s highest court has reinstated a ban on controversial Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s show 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.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala 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 M’bala M’bala’s name by those who had gathered to see the show.
On his Facebook page, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala appealed to those gathered outside Nantes’ Zenith theatre to return peacefully to their homes, saying he had been denied permission to address them.
The comic 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.
France’s highest court has reinstated a ban on controversial Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s show just before it was due to open
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.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s supporters will say it is just more evidence of how he and his ideas are silenced by the system, he adds.
French media who have sent reporters to previous performances of The Wall say it contained a string of derogatory references to Jews.
Speaking on Thursday from Brittany, Manuel 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 M’bala M’bala 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,” he was recorded as saying.
He has also been accused of deriding Holocaust survivors and victims in his material.
On Monday, Manuel Valls said he had advised city mayors and police prefects that Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s show could be banned if it was deemed to present a threat to public order.
However, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala’s lawyer said banning the show would be a clear breach of the principle of free expression, and that contrary to government claims, there was no evidence that his performances were a threat to public order.
The comic remains booked to play at a series of French venues until June, although the cities of Bordeaux and Marseille have cancelled his performances and in light of the latest ruling, it is not clear whether the rest of the tour can go ahead.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala denies his trademark quenelle gesture is an inverted Nazi salute, instead describing it as an anti-establishment sign.