The French authorities want to ban a stand-up comic turned “anti-Zionist” activist from fielding lists of candidates in European elections next month. Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala and a former far-right National Front member who is his ally say they will present candidates in at least five of France’s electoral regions for this June’s European Parliamentary vote.
President Sarkozy’s chief of staff Claude Guéant said: “This deserves our attention, including at the legal level. Dieudonné‘s lists… are his professional, exclusively anti-semitic stock in trade. Will France and its citizens participate in financing lists which professes attitudes like this during the coming European campaign?” The 42-year-old comedian is going on trial this Tuesday on charges of inciting hatred against Jews. Less than two years ago he was fined after similar controversy. France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish minorities, and there is concern Dieudonne’s proposal would increase tensions. But not everyone agrees with Gueant that banning the said lists is appropriate. A Socialist member of the European Parliament, Benoît Hamon, said: “There is no better way to make sure of Dieudonné‘s popularity tomorrow, and if his lists actually happen, than by giving him the sort of publicity Mr. Guéant is giving him.” Elsewhere in Europe, concern is growing over Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders’ high standing in opinion polls. The Party for Freedom he leads could make strong gains campaigning with the slogan ‘Against Eurabia and for the Netherlands’. Wilders has stirred controversy over freedom of speech, including with his short film called ‘Fitna’, the Arabic word for “test of faith in times of trial”.