French top court stops comedy show called anti-Semitic

Thu Jan 9, 2014 3:48pm EST
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By Marion Douet

PARIS (Reuters) - A top French court upheld a ban on the opening night show on Thursday of a comedian whom the government accuses of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims.

The Council of State, France's highest administrative court, issued its last-minute decision just one hour before the show by Dieudonne M'bala M'bala was to begin in the western city of Nantes.

The top court's ruling came after Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has been leading the effort to stop Dieudonne's national tour, appealed a decision by a lower administrative court that rejected local authorities' efforts to ban the show.

In its ruling, the Council of State - which has previously ruled against bans on Dieudonne performances - cited the risk to public order were the show to proceed.

"It's a big relief," said Valls after the decision.

Fans outside the theatre booed after hearing the news.

"We're disappointed, we came for nothing," one fan told BFM-TV. "Even if you don't agree with what's being said, everyone should be able to express themselves."

Dieudonne's lawyer, Jacques Verdier, has argued that a ban on his client performing would breach his freedom of speech.   Continued...

French humorist Dieudonne M'bala M'bala (R), also known as Dieudonne, waves as he leaves the Zenith concert hall where he was to hold his show in Nantes, January 9, 2014. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe