ADL: French Government Crackdown on Dieudonne Shows “Forceful Commitment to Combat Anti-Semitism”

New York, NY, January 9, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today reacted to the decision by France’s Council of State to uphold local government bans on the new show of Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, an anti-Semitic French comedian.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

Dieudonne is well aware of the laws in France, having been convicted multiple times for his anti-Semitic statements.  He chose to brazenly ignore them and provoke the authorities. While we believe criminalizing hate speech is antithetical to the U.S. constitutional protection of speech, we understand and respect that different legal norms are prevalent in European democracies.  The French government’s actions and the Court of State’s decision represent a forceful commitment to combat anti-Semitism.

Standing up in the face of hatred is the best antidote in a democratic society.  We appreciate the many political and civil society leaders in France who have already done so.

The Council of State is France’s highest administrative law appellate court.  France’s Interior Ministry had recommended to local governments that they uphold their obligation to preserve public order by banning performances of Dieudonne’s new show, “The Wall,” which according to France’s Ministry of the Interior contains anti-Semitic statements against several Jewish individuals and “virulent and shocking attacks on the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.”

Many cities where performances were planned issued such decisions, and Dieudonne sued to overturn the ban in the city of Nantes, where the first public performance was to take place.  The Nantes court ruled in favor of Dieudonne, and the Council of State overruled the Nantes court’s decision.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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