French comic Dieudonne appeals against ban on show

Supporters wave a tee-shirt of Dieudonne M'bala M'bala in Nantes, 9 January These supporters were waving a T-shirt of Dieudonne in Nantes

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The French comic Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, viewed as a dangerous anti-Semite by the government, has appealed against a ban on his show.

He lodged the appeal with the country'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.

'Totally alien'

Supporters of the comic and critics of the bans accuse the authorities of denying Dieudonne freedom of speech.

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.

Supporters of Dieudonne M'bala M'bala in Nantes, 9 January Supporters made quenelle salutes in Nantes

Interior Minister Manuel Valls wants Dieudonne kept off all stages in France, condemning the comic's "mechanics of hate".

Prime Minister 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 spiralling 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's trademark "quenelle" gesture, which is regarded by many as an inverted Nazi salute, while some brandished pineapples.

One of the comic's most notorious songs, Shoananas, roughly translates as Pineapple-Holocaust and mocks commemoration of the Nazi extermination of the Jews.

Preview performances of The Wall in Paris included a sketch in which the comic mimed urinating against a wall. He then revealed it was the Western Wall (the so-called Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem.

He has also been 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 said.

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