Anti-Semitic French entertainer found guilty of condoning terrorism

BigotsAnti-Semitic French entertainer found guilty of condoning terrorism

Published 20 March 2015

Two separate French courts, on Wednesday and Thursday, found anti-Semitic entertainer Dieudonné M’bala M’bala guilty in two separate cases. In one case he was convicted of supporting terrorism by posting a sympathetic message on his Facebook page about Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people in January at a kosher supermarket. In the second case he was found guilty of inciting racial hatred by saying that it was too bad that a French Jewish journalist, who wrote critically about him, was not killed in the Nazi gas chambers. M’bala M’bala has been convicted and fined dozens of times in the past for anti-Semitic statements or slander, but Wednesday’s court decision was the first one to threaten him with jail time. In the first case, the entertainer was convicted under a new law, passed in November, which aims to rein in speech and expressions supporting terrorism. French law enforcement and prosecutors have enforced the law aggressively, and since the January attacks more than 100 were brought up of charges of expressing support for terrorism.

A court in Paris on Wednesday found anti-Semitic French entertainer Dieudonné M’bala M’bala guilty of condoning terrorism after a Facebook message he posted in January expressed sympathy with one of the gunmen in the attacks that killed seventeen people in Paris.

The court in Paris gave him a suspended two-month jail sentence.

M’bala M’bala was convicted under a new law, passed in November, which aims to rein in speech and expressions supporting terrorism.

French law enforcement and prosecutors have enforced the law aggressively, and since the January attacks more than 100 were brought up of charges of expressing support for terrorism.

The maximum punishments allowed by the law are seven years in prison and €100,000 in fines. In the case of M’bala M’bala, prosecutors have asked for a fine of €30,000, which, if he failed to pay, would be converted to 200 days in jail.

Four days after the January attack in which twelve people were killed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, one municipal police officer killed south of Paris, and four people killed at a kosher supermarket, M’bala M’bala wrote on his Facebook page that he felt like “Charlie Coulibaly” (“Sachez que ce soir, en ce qui me concerne, Je me sens CharlieCoulibaly”).

His message was a cruel melding the “Je suis Charlie” slogan with the name of Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman at the kosher supermarket, and it was posted on a day when millions have marched throughout France to protest the deadly attack.

M’bala M’bala chose to use Coulibaly’s name rather than the last name of Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two brothers who killed the Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff, because unlike the victims of the Kouachi brothers, all the victims of Coulibaly were Jewish. M’bala M’bala is not an Islamist (in fact, he is Catholic), but he is an anti-Semite, so killing Jews, as Coulibaly did, is something to which he can relate (see “Controversial French comedian Dieudonné investigated over ‘Charlie Coulibaly’ post,” HSNW, 13 January 2015).

The “Charlie Coulibaly” post was but one of the more recent bigoted expressions and gestures M’bala M’bala has made over the years (see “French anti-Semitic entertainer banned from U.K.,” HSNW, 4 February 2014). The Guardian reports that he has been convicted and fined dozens of times in the past for anti-Semitic statements or slander, but Wednesday’s court decision was the first one to threaten him with jail time.

Yesterday (Thursday), another Paris court found M’bala M’bala guilty of inciting racial hatred by declaring that it was too bad that Patrick Cohen, a Jewish journalist for French Inter, did not die in the gas chambers.

During one of the performances of his one-man show called Le Mur, before an audience of hundreds, M‘bala M’bala said: “Moi, quand je l’entends parler, Patrick Cohen, j’me dis, tu vois, les chambres à gaz… Dommage” (When I hear him talk, Patrick Cohen, I tell myself, you know, the gas chambers … Too bad) .

He then added: “…ne pas avoir à choisir entre les juifs et les nazis: Je suis neutre dans cette affaire. Je n’étais pas né. Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé? Qui a provoqué qui? J’ai ma petite idée, mais…” (do not have to choose between Jews and Nazis, I am neutral in this matter. I was not yet born. What happened? What caused what? I have my own idea, but …).

Le Monde reports that the court fined him €8,000, and additional €1,500 in interest, and ordered him to pay half that sum to the Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme, and the other half to the Bureau national de vigilance contre l’antisémitisme.

Before his one-man show was banned, M’bala M’bala toured France, appearing before enthusiastic audiences consisting in the main of young sons and daughters of North African immigrants to France. He would end each show with a song reminiscent of Annie Cordie’s “Chaud cacao.” M’bala M’bala’s song, called “Shoananas” (“Holocaust Pineapples”), mocks the Holocaust (Shoa, in Hebrew) and hints that it never happened.

M’bala M’bala is a vocal supporter of the extreme right-wing party National Front, and a close friend of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Le Pen, unabashedly, is an anti-Semite, a bigot, a racist, and a Holocaust denier. He founded the National Front – now led by his daughter, Marine Le Pen — in order to fight immigration to France by black- and brown-skinned people, who he regards as inferior to white people.

M’bala M’bala is half black and the son of an immigrant (his father is an immigrant from Cameroon, his mother French), so his friendship with the Le Pens and his support for the anti-immigration National Front might be puzzling, but there is an explanation: Le Pen hates immigrants and hates black people, but he loathes Jews more. Hatred of Jews makes strange bedfellows.

Leave a comment

Register for your own account so you may participate in comment discussion. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to abide by our Comment Guidelines, our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Use. Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief. Names are displayed with all comments. Learn more about Joining our Web Community.