PARIS, Jan 23 (AFP) – A French comedian has been ordered to appear before a Paris court for making allegedly racially defamatory comments in a television sketch where he urged disaffected youths to join an “American-Zionist Axis”.
No date has been set for the court hearing of Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who performed the sketch in December on state-owned channel France 3 dressed in a ski mask and wearing a wig, hat and jacket to look like an orthodox Jew.
He jokingly urged disadvantaged French youth – many of them second-generation Arab immigrants – to “convert, like me, try to pick yourselves up, join the Axis of Good: the American-Zionist Axis.”
The incident provoked outrage from French Jewish groups, condemnation from French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and a reprimand to the network from the broadcasting regulator.
The entertainer, a self-declared atheist born in France of a French mother and a Cameroonian father, was also forced to cancel several performances after the show.
However Dieudonne has remained defiant, arguing this week that he had the right to “denounce …those who killed (former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak) Rabin and kill Palestinians every day”.
A minor presidential candidate in 2002 elections who once described Osama Bin Laden as the “most important personality in contemporary history”, Dieudonne has sought attention with his controversial humour and comments.
Two years ago, an appeals court acquitted him of slander after he called white Catholics racist enslavers.
Subject: France news