French Interior Minister says 'racist' French comic Dieudonne must pay fines

Manuel Valls accused Dieudonne M'bala M'bala of trying to bankrupt himself to avoid the charges

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The Independent Online

French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala has incurred thousands of euros in racism fines, and the French Interior Minister says he is determined to make the performer pay up.

Manuel Valls told listeners on the Europe 1 radio station that Dieudonne is allegedly trying to bankrupt himself in an attempt to avoid paying fines amounting to tens of thousands of euros.

Mr Valls also wants to ban Dieudonne from performing because of accusations he is an anti-Semite.

During the interview, Mr Valls said: “All the services of the state must be mobilised... to make Dieudonne M'bala M'bala pay his fines,” adding: “Nobody can be above the law.”

The comedian began his career as an anti-racism activist, but now has six convictions for hate speech  including against Jewish people.

Read more: Furore over Nicolas Anelka's 'quenelle' intensifies

In a recent TV documentary, the 47-year-old comic was filmed during a one-man show talking about a well-known French-Jewish radio presenter. “When I hear Patrick Cohen talking, you see, I think of gas ovens. Pity,” the comedian said.

He has also caused controversy over his trademark "quenelle" gesture that he invented in 2004, which critics say is an inverted Nazi salute, but he claims is an anti-establishment gesture.

La quenelle or “the meat ball” consists of pointing towards the ground with a flattened hand while folding the other arm across your chest.

The controversy that surrounds the comedian has jeopardised his tour after authorities in the north eastern cities of Metz and Nancy called for his shows to be cancelled.

In late December, the debate around the quenelle spread to the UK after Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri who is a friend of Dieudonne, made the sign in a photo.

West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka also made the gesture, but was defended by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who said that many people in France aren’t aware of what it means and that only Anelka could be sure of his intentions.

“Some make it an anti-system movement, some make it an anti-Semitic movement. I think personally I don't know, I have never seen this movement,” Mr Wenger said in a press conference.