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.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.