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Comedian's show ruled to be a 'demonstration of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial'

During his performance French comic Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala brought a prominent Holocaust denier onto the stage.

French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala
French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala
Image: AP Photo/Michel Euler

A PERFORMANCE BY a French comedian went beyond freedom of expression and constituted hate speech, the European Court of Human Rights has said.

During a performance Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, who is known for his politically-charged performances, carried out a number of actions on stage that were deemed by the court to be anti-Semitic.

The court ruled that parts of the performance fell outside of the realm of entertainment and rather resembled a political meeting.

Today’s judgement will not come as a surprise to M’Bala M’Bala, who has faced increasing opposition to his controversial views from within France in recent years.

In 2013, prime minister Manuel Valls, who was then the country’s interior minister, stated that he would try and ban all of the comedian’s performances after M’Bala M’Bala joked about a Jewish journalist being sent to a gas chamber.

In its judgement, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the performance was a “demonstration of hatred and anti-Semitism and support for Holocaust denial.”

What happened in the show?

The show I’ve Been a Naughty Boy took place on St Stephen’s Day in 2008 at the Le Zénith Paris, a 6,000 seat venue in the French capital.

During the show Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson appeared on stage along with an actor wearing striped pajamas adorned with a yellow star and the word Jew.

The actor then presented Faurisson with a three-branched candle stick with apples stuck on each branch – a prize for “unfrequentability and insolence”.

The performance was recorded by police in Paris who then launched an investigation.

Judgement

In their judgement, the court ruled that it has “no doubt about the highly anti-Semitic content of the offending part of Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala’s show”.

M’Bala M’Bala had been contending his case under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects freedom of expression.

In reaction to this the court said that M’Bala M’Bala’s actions were “incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Convention”.

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