Counter-speech is a vital tool to combat hate speech, and ADL’s counterpart in French-speaking Switzerland, CICAD, provided an excellent example of counter-speech last night against the anti-Semitic French comedian, Dieudonné.
Dieudonné, who has been convicted and fined multiple times for anti-Semitic speech in France, scheduled several performances in Nyon, Switzerland, a town just four miles over the border.
Last night’s performance coincided with the British government’s decision to declare Dieudonné persona non grata, forbidding him entry into the UK. During the performance, Dieudonné referred to Queen Elizabeth II and made his often anti-Semitic quenelle gesture.
The Nyon municipality decided on January 13 not to ban Dieudonné’s performances, while “firmly condemning any racist and/or anti-Semitic statements.” Following that decision, CICAD sought and received permission from the Nyon municipality to set up an information booth next to the theater to provide audience members with documentation of Dieudonné’s anti-Semitic hate speech, including Holocaust denial.
ADL champions counter-speech and education to address hate speech, and this approach is a central theme of Viral Hate: Containing Its Spread on the Internet, the most recent book by ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman and Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair. CICAD reminds us that this strategy works well on the ground too.
CICAD will be presenting a French-language version of ADL’s Confronting Anti-Semitism: Myths and Facts at the Geneva International Book Fair, April 30-May 4, one of the most important in Europe with almost 100,000 visitors each year.