French Comedian Dieudonne Denied Entry Into U.K.
PARIS – French comedian Dieudonne, who has been engaged in a heated public battle with the government here over his anti-Semitic remarks, has now been banned from entering the U.K. Dieudonne was said to be traveling to Britain to support soccer player Nicolas Anelka in a disciplinary hearing. Anelka made a hand gesture called a "quenelle," which is regarded by many as an upside-down Nazi salute, in a match on Dec. 28.
Dieudonne says that he invented the gesture and maintains that it is not anti-Semitic but anti-establishment. The gesture involves one arm facing down with an open-face palm and the other hand touching the shoulder or upper arm.
A British government spokesperson confirmed the comedian is banned from entering the country as of Jan. 31: "We can confirm that Mr. Dieudonne is subject to an exclusion order. The home secretary will seek to exclude an individual from the U.K. if she considers that there are public policy or public security reasons to do so."
Airlines and other transportation services were warned that he is not eligible for carriage into the country and that he will be denied entry at the border. Transport companies were advised that they would face a $16,300 (£10,000) fine for allowing him transport to the U.K.
Several shows of Dieudonne's planned tour were banned by French cities in January, which cited the performance as a threat to public order. His routine contains several jokes about Jews and the Holocaust. He says he has since removed most of the offensive material.
The British player Anelka was charged by the British Football Association for making the hand gesture. He said he was expressing support for Dieudonne, who has become the target of several police investigations into his activities because of his jokes and other public comments.
Dieudonne has been fined several times for hate speech, which is banned in France, as is denial of the Holocaust, which he compared to "memorial pornography," resulting in a conviction of public defamation.
In 2012 his directorial debut, The Anti-Semite, was canceled at the Cannes Marche du Film after protest from Jewish groups.
Following the regional cancelations of his shows, Dieudonne has been engaged in a public battle with French interior minister Manuel Valls and has caused president Francois Hollande to speak out, stating that while the freedom of creative expression is protected, it must be curbed in "exceptional circumstances."
Valls has said that Dieudonne is no longer a comedian but is engaged in the "business of hate."