Controversial French comic seeks to overturn show ban
NANTES, France (AFP) - Dieudonne, the French comic at the heart of a furore over sketches widely condemned as anti-Semitic, has asked courts to reverse bans on his shows as he kicks off his nationwide tour, his lawyer and court documents said on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old was due to start his tour on Thursday in the western city of Nantes, but as in several other cities around France, authorities banned his performance after Interior Minister Manuel Valls gave local officials the go-ahead to do so - an initiative backed by President Francois Hollande.
Dieudonne's material has been viewed as anti-Semitic for years, but he has gained greater prominence in recent months as a result of the Internet-driven success of the "quenelle", his trademark straight arm gesture which some have described as a reverse Nazi salute.
A recent joke about gas chambers, secretly filmed at one of his shows, was the last straw for Valls who announced his intention to ban his performances.