Dieudonne M’bala M’bala may be banned from performing in France after the black comedian repeatedly made a gesture that’s been called a “Nazi salute in reverse.”
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the ministry is considering ways to ban the comedian, who is known on stage as Dieudonne, from performing. He has already been fined several times for hate speech, but Valls said Dieudonne continues to make a straight-arm gesture that has been compared to a Nazi salute.
“Dieudonne M’bala M’bala doesn’t seem to recognize any limits any more,” Valls said in a statement. “From one comment to the next, as he has shown in several television shows, he attacks the memory of Holocaust victims in an obvious and unbearable way.”
Instances of anti-Semitism have been on the rise in France, which has Europe’s largest Jewish minority, estimated at 600,000. Last year a French Islamist killed a rabbi and three students at a Jewish school in the city of Toulouse.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala said he is not anti-Semitic. He claims that the gesture, in which he points his arm downward, stands for anti-Zionism and anti-establishment views. Dieudonne also broke into the entertainment business with a Jewish comedy partner, appearing in several movies in the early 1990s.
He has helped the gesture to go viral, with a number of people copying it on YouTube videos and performing it at sporting events.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has been in trouble in the past for remarks viewed as anti-Semitic. In 2005 he called the Central Council of French Jews CRIF a “mafia” that was exercising “total control over French policy exercise,” and referred to a Holocaust commemoration “memorial pornography.”
Since getting his start in films in the early 1990s, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala has appeared in a number of movies, largely in supporting roles. He appeared in the 2002 box-office success Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra.