Controversial French comic Dieudonne questioned over 'assault'

22nd January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Controversial French comic Dieudonne, branded a "pedlar of hate" by the government for sketches deemed to be anti-Semitic, hit the headlines again Wednesday for allegedly assaulting a bailiff.

Dieudonne, who owes the state thousands of euros in unpaid fines for a slew of offences including racial discrimination and hate speech, was questioned Wednesday for a second time in as many days along with his girlfriend Noemie Montagne.

The alleged attack is said to have taken place when bailiffs turned up at the comedian's home on Monday night to demand payment of several fines.

Dieudonne's lawyer Sanjay Mirabeau said they tried to enter by climbing over a fence and then "Dieudonne's partner and their security staff asked them to leave".

According to sources close to the investigation, one of the bailiffs says he was assaulted by Dieudonne, and targeted with rubber bullets.

The bailiff says he was shot at as he was going to his car to leave the property in the town of Mesnil-Simon, south-west of Paris.

A search of the house later turned up a bullet-launching device, investigators said.

A prosecutor said Wednesday Dieudonne denied during the first questioning that any such attack took place at his home.

The stand-up comedian, whose full name is Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, went to the police station voluntarily and was questioned for several hours, from just before midnight until dawn, according to Mirabeau.

The couple also filed their own complaint accusing the bailiffs of breaking into their home, the lawyer said.

"Dieudonne wants to be left alone or at least to be treated in a normal manner, that is to say, for the bailiffs to turn up at his house during regular hours," Mirabeau said.

Dieudonne has been at the heart of a furore over sketches widely viewed as anti-Semitic that prompted local authorities to block shows of his nationwide "The Wall" tour at the request of Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

He has also made headlines internationally after footballer Nicolas Anelka performed his trademark salute, called the "quenelle", during an English Premier League match.

The stiff-arm gesture has been described as a disguised Nazi salute, with anti-Semitic connotations, but the comic says it is merely an "up yours" to the establishment.

Anelka faces a lengthy ban after being charged by the football association over the gesture, which was made during a match last month.

The footballer has until Thursday to respond to the charge and if found guilty, faces a minimum five-game suspension, under new anti-discrimination measures introduced by the FA in May last year.

Dieudonne, 47, whose father is Cameroonian and mother is white, started his career as part of a double act with his childhood Jewish friend Elie Semoun and their sketches tackled issues like racism and slavery.

But he veered towards anti-Semitism and the change burst into the open in 2003, when he concluded a televised sketch for which he had dressed up as an extremist Jew with a Nazi salute.

He has directed volleys of abuse at prominent French Jewish figures, rounding off one rant about radio presenter Patrick Cohen with the observation: "Gas chambers... a shame."

© 2014 AFP

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