French upholds ban on 'anti-Jew' comedian

Court's decision to ban Dieudonne's show angers fans, who say he is exercising right to free speech.

    A top French court has upheld the ban of a show by a comedian whom the government accuses of anti-Jew sentiments and insulting the memory of Holocaust victims.
     
    The Council of State, France's highest administrative court, issued its last-minute decision just an hour before the show by Dieudonne M'bala M'bala was to begin in the western city of Nantes.
     
    The top court's ruling came after Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has been leading the effort to stop Dieudonne's national tour, appealed against a decision by a lower administrative court that rejected local authorities' efforts to ban the show.
     
    In its ruling, the Council of State - which has previously ruled against bans on Dieudonne performances - cited the risk to public order were the show to proceed.
     
    There were angry scenes on Thursday as crowds of supporters protested against the decision.
     
    One of Dieudonne's lawyers, Jacques Verdier, has argued that a ban on his client would breach his freedom of speech.
     
    Dieudonne, 46, has been repeatedly fined for hate speech and local authorities in Nantes had barred the show following the lead of other cities that did the same on the grounds of risk to public order.
     
    The comedian's supporters say he is anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, not anti-Jew.
     
    The appeals court's decision validated the efforts of Valls and President Francois Hollande, who had argued for regional prefects to remain "on alert and inflexible" in determining whether or not to ban the shows.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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