Discussing French performer Dieudonné and the right to free speech on the Sky News debate. 10/1/14.
Fans of Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala performed his trademark quenelle salute outside a theatre in Nantes after the French comic was banned from performing at the eleventh hour.
As conflicting rulings by French authorities over Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala’s act sowed widespread confusion, riot police carrying shields blocked access to the Zenith theatre. In shocking scenes outside the venue, some fans performed the quenelle, which is thought to have originated with Dieudonne and has been branded as an “inverted Nazi salute” by the country’s interior minister.
The 47-year-old has been convicted more than a half-dozen times for inciting racial hatred or anti-Semitism in shows in which the Holocaust has been derided.
“Freedom of speech is fundamental to democratic life and performers should be encouraged to defy conventions and push boundaries. But not, and this is the crux of the matter, when it incites bigotry and intolerance. The nauseating scenes outside the Nantes theatre where Dieudonné was due to perform tell you everything you need to know about this man’s sinister influence on his followers. Nantes in 2014 looked like Nuremberg in the 1930s.”
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