The French are struggling to find a legal way to gag controversial comedian Dieudonne for his alleged anti-semitism.
The Interior Minister has called for local officials to decide wherever the comedian goes on his upcoming tour about the content of his shows, and whether or not they should be banned, as he can do nothing nationally.
Four cities, Marseilles, Tours, Nantes and Bordeaux have already pulled the plugs, against which Dieudonne is appealing. Even the president has felt obliged to get involved.
“I’m calling on all state representatives, especially prefects, to be alert and inflexible. No-one should be able to use a stage show to openly promote anti-semitic ideas,” said President François Hollande.
He may call for toughness, but Dieudonne has always won his appeals on freedom of speech grounds.
“The cancellation of a performance is an act of censorship. If there is no public disorder then it is a troubling artist that one wishes to forbid,” said Dieudonne’s lawyer Jacques Verdier.
Dieudonne, born in Paris to a French mother and father from Cameroon, has never paid any of his numerous fines for anti-semitic outbursts, claiming his Theatre du Main d’Or in Paris has eaten up all his money and made him bankrupt.
He insists he is merely anti-establishment, and anti-Zionist, but he does foster links with figures from France’s extreme right-wing, including holocaust deniers like historian Robert Faurisson, who has appeared onstage with Dieudonne on several occasions.