France intensifies crackdown on controversial comic Dieudonne
France's crackdown on Dieudonne M'bala M'Bala intensified on Tuesday with police raiding offices and properties of the controversial comic and a Paris theatre at which he regularly performs.
The raids were carried out as part of an investigation into suspected fraud by a performer who has been widely accused of promoting anti-Semitism and has a string of convictions for hate speech.
Authorities are currently attempting to force Dieudonne to pay tens of thousands of euros (dollars) in outstanding fines related to his convictions and suspect that the 47-year-old was planning to fraudulently declare himself bankrupt.
They are also investigating suspected money laundering and misuse of corporate assets.
Dieudonne hit the headlines last month when the government, which has branded him a "pedlar of hate", succeeded in preventing him from starting a nationwide tour of a new show, "The Wall", because of its perceived anti-Semitic content.
He has also generated controversy by popularising the quenelle, a trademark stiff-armed gesture that critics say is a disguised Nazi salute but he defends as a generic 'up yours' to the French establishment.
Former France footballer Nicolas Anelka, a long-standing friend of Dieudonne, is currently facing disciplinary proceedings by the English Football Association for making the quenelle gesture after scoring for his club West Brom last month.
Anelka, a convert to Islam, insists there were no anti-Semitic overtures to his use of the gesture -- a stance echoed by many in France.
Some followers of Dieudonne have however been photographed doing the quenelle at sites including Auschwitz, synagogues and outside a Jewish school in Toulouse where a rabbi and three children were shot dead by Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah in 2012.
Police said Wednesday they had arrested a man suspected of distributing a picture of someone doing the quenelle outside the Toulouse school.
© 2014 AFP