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Culture

Controversial comic Dieudonné scraps show but announces Paris performances despite ban

media A poster for Dieudonné M'bala M'bala's show, Le Mur Reuters/Stephane Mahe

French comic Dieudonné said Saturday he would defy a ban on appearances in Paris as ministers threatened to try to ban his allegedly anti-Semitic remarks from the internet. But the comic is to drop the one-man show with which he was trying to tour France.
 

Dieudonné M'bala M'Bala on Saturday announced four performances in Paris on Saturday afternoon and evening and summoned his supporters to demonstrate against the bans on his show Le Mur (The Wall) on 26 January.

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"Valls has declared war on me," Dieudonné says in his latest video, in reference to Interior Minister Manuel Vallls's circular calling on local officials to ban his appearances.

The far-right Catholic fundamentalist group Civitas has already pledged to turn out on the protest.

Late on Friday Paris's police chief banned appearances due for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Main d'Or theatre, a venue that the comedian rents and where he stages regular peformances.

A court in Orleans on Saturday upheld a ban on a show by the comedian due to be held there, while the Council of State on Friday threw out his appeal against a ban on one in nearby Tours.

Dieudonné's lawyer, Sanjay Mirabeau, pledged to fight all the bans at the country's highest court.

But on Saturday afternoon Mirabeau announced that his client will no longer try to peform Le Mur, replacing it with another, Asu Zoa, whose content was as yet unknown.

Earlier he suggested that his client might peform a show that makes no reference to Jews.

"He could, for example, do a show entirely on the black community," he said.

The battle now seems to have shifted to the internet, with the comic appealing to his fans to buy his DVDs in massive numbers as a show of defiance.

Valls and Culture Minister Aurélie Filipetti have both floated the idea of preventing the broadcast of Dieudonné's videos online.

"We cannot let this speech spread," Valls said. "We must dicuss this with operators."

The trailer for the comic's show Le Mur (The Wall) scored 670,000 hits in two months while clips attacking Valls and President François Hollande have been viewed by between two and three million people.

The French Jewish Stundents' Union (UEJF) on Friday took legal action against a video posted last week entitled 2014 will be the year of the quenelle, referring to the "up yours" gesture that Dieudonné claims is "anti-system" but his detractors claim is a reference to the Nazi salute.

In the clip he repeats several of the phrases that have led to him being found guilty of incitement to racial hatred.

A police commander in a suburb of the south-eastern city of Grenoble has been suspended because of a photo of him making the gesture.

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