Dieudonné M’bala M’bala: French ‘quenelle’ comedian banned from UK

Kim Willshire — Guardian.co.uk Feb 3, 2014

The controversial French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has been banned from entering Britain after several of his shows were cancelled in France.

Dieudonné had said he would travel to the UK to support his friend, footballer Nicolas Anelka, who is facing a disciplinary hearing after performing a “quenelle” – an allegedly antisemitic gesture – during a Premier League match.

The Home Office has declared the performer persona non grata and warned he will not be allowed into the country.

The Home Office has sent out a warning to airlines and other transport companies as well as border officials, that the performer, known by his stage name Dieudonné, is an “excluded” individual.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Mr Dieudonné is subject to an exclusion order. The home secretary will seek to exclude an individual from the UK if she considers that there are public policy or public security reasons to do so.”

Several of Dieudonné’s shows were banned in France last month at the start of a 22-date tour amid fears that his stereotypical portrait of Jews and mocking of the Holocaust were a risk to public order.

Dieudonné fans and civil liberties campaigners accused the French government of attacking free speech and of censorship. The comedian rewrote his shows dropping the most offensive material.

Anelka, a striker with West Bromwich Albion, has been charged by the Football Association after performing a quenelle when he scored a goal against West Ham on 28 December.

The 34-year-old player said he was expressing his support for his friend Dieudonné, who claims to have invented the gesture, described by some as an inverted Nazi salute.

Dieudonné, who has convictions for inciting racial hatred through his antisemitic jokes and comments, insists the gesture is simply anti-establishment. However, he has failed to distance himself from groups and individuals who have posted photographs of themselves doing the quenelle outside synagogues, Holocaust memorials, Jewish schools and even at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Anelka has insisted he is “neither antisemitic or racist”. The hearing is not expected before the end of February.

The document outlining the ban on Dieudonné was leaked to the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. It states that the 47-year-old comic “should not be carried to the UK” (pdf).

It warned transport carriers they faced a fine of up to £10,000 if they allow him to travel to Britain.

“The above-named has been excluded from the UK at the direction of the secretary of state on 31 January 2014. Carriers required to provide data to e-Borders will be refused authority to carry him to the UK He is not eligible for carriage. If he travels he will be denied entry at the UK border.”

France’s interior minister, who supported the ban on Dieudonné’s shows, said he was no longer artistic or funny but engaged in the “mechanics of hate”.

“We cannot tolerate antisemitism, historical revisionism and racism, and the highest jurisdiction in our country has agreed,” he said.

Dieudonné was questioned by police two weeks ago after a bailiff who arrived at the comedian’s home to serve a writ claimed he was attacked.

The comedian is at the centre of several official and police inquiries after allegations of unpaid fines, the “fraudulent organisation of bankruptcy” and another claim that he incited racial hatred after making antisemitic remarks about radio presenter Patrick Cohen.

During one of his shows Dieudonné told the audience: “When I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I tell myself, you know, the gas chambers … a pity.”

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