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Controversial French comic seeks to overturn show ban

Published on Jan 9, 2014 6:30 AM
A combination of files pictures made on Jan 7, 2014 shows a photo taken on Dec 5, 2013 in Brussels of French Interior minister Manuel Valls (left) and a second one taken on Nov 29, 2009 in Paris of French controversial humorist Dieudonne Mbala Mbala (right). France moved on Jan 6, 2014 to try and ban performances by controversial comic Dieudonne just days before the start of a nationwide tour of a one-man show containing anti-semitic material. Manuel Valls said he had advised local police officials that Dieudonne's shows could be banned if they are deemed to present a threat to public order. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

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.

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