Monday, 30 December 2013

France: Antisemite “comedian” tests freedom of speech’s limits

Should the French government "censor or not" the controversial comedian Deieudonné for his repeated alleged anti-Semite statements and gestures?

The question, Libération's headline today, has risen after French Interior minister Manuel Valls said he was considering banning the anti-semitic humorist's shows for "disturbing public order". Valls' announcement came after the "quenelle", an obscene gesture deemed to be a modern nazi salute and initiated by Dieudonné, became viral.

But forbidding Dieudonne's shows "looks complicated", writes Libération:

many local authorities have already tried […], in vain. Administrative courts […] always considered that censoring freedom of speech a priori, even if public order could be at risk, is not justified.[…] Dieudonné has been convicted seven times for "defamation", "insults" and "provocation into racial hatred", but this has not stopped the buzz surrounding him. Manuel Valls' initiative is also political: he wants to set up a limit to what could be said, as Dieudonné hasn't got any more. […] Vall's opponents believe that this latest controversy will serve the "comedian"'s interests.

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