PARIS (AFP) - France will not tolerate any hate speech or acts against Jews, Muslims or Christians, President Francois Hollande said Tuesday, just days after a comic whose sketches were viewed as anti-Semitic was banned from performing.
Mr Hollande hailed as a "victory" a ban on Dieudonne's sketches initiated by Interior Minister Manuel Valls. The controversial comic has since been forced to cancel a nationwide tour after his attempts to challenge the ban in court failed.
The French leader added that all forms of religious hatred would be treated in the same way.
"There are acts, there are anti-Semitic words, there are anti-Muslim actions which all must be denounced," he said, also evoking "anti-Christian acts." "None of these actions can be accepted," he said. "All citizens have to be protected." Dieudonne, 47, started his career as part of a double act with a Jewish childhood friend, Elie Semoun.
But he veered towards anti-Semitism and the change burst into the open in 2003, when he concluded a televised sketch for which he had dressed up as an extremist Jew with a Nazi salute.
He has been fined several times for defamation, using insulting language, hate speech and racial discrimination.
He has also been slammed for his trademark "quenelle" stiff-arm gesture, which has been described as a disguised Nazi salute but which he says is merely an "up yours" to the French establishment.