Only in France: the black, anti-Semitic comedian at a rally of Le Pen's far right

Ségolène Royal's runaway success has brought the ends of the political spectrum together in the face of a common enemy

Paris

There is a political saying in France that the "extremes touch". Even in France, however, the extremes rarely shake hands in public.

The comprehensive triumph of Ségolène Royal in the Socialist presidential "primary" is not the only straw in the wind of a perplexing French electoral season. Mouths gaped last week when Jean-Marie Le Pen, veteran xenophobe and leader of the powerful French far right, chatted amiably in public with Dieudonné M'bala, a black comedian, one-time anti-racist campaigner, now the champion of a conspiracy-obsessed and anti-Semitic segment of the far left.

Dieudonné (always known by his stage name) turned up at the annual Red-White-Blue festival of Mr Le Pen's National Front at Le Bourget, allegedly on a whim and "just to have a look". It later emerged that the visit, and "chance" meeting between the two men, was planned by senior NF officials, with Mr Le Pen's and Dieudonné's knowledge, though the two men managed to avoid being photographed together.

What was going on? Dieudonné, 40, who has his own political comedy theatre in eastern Paris, has broken with many former friends on the left by insisting that all the ills of the world, and especially the problems of black people, can be traced to Israeli and Jewish influence. He was convicted earlier this year of making anti-Semitic statements.

Mr Le Pen, 78, was once a scarcely disguised anti-Semite and racist himself. Even last summer he was complaining that there were too many black faces in the France football squad at the World Cup. But he has tried to re-invent himself in recent months as a democratic nationalist and patriot, open to French people of all races and religions. Being seen with Dieudonné could help to enlarge his appeal in next spring's presidential election. The NF leader is convinced that he can repeat his stunning exploit of 2003 when he reached the two-candidate second round.

In the past couple of days, meanwhile, Dieudonné has said that he is "not the monster" people claim and that he has "every chance" of becoming the man who brings "political revolution" to France. The extremes may hate each other, but they also recognise a common enemy in Ms Royal.

But Mr Le Pen's National Front is riven by internal quarrels. Unreconstructed racists within the party jeered and insulted Dieudonné when he turned up at the NF festival, forcing him to leave early.

Mr Le Pen's own daughter, Marine, main architect of his recent lurch towards the middle ground, was also furious when she saw Dieudonné at the Le Bourget meeting. She had invited a militant Jewish protection group to come along to prove that the "nouveau" NF was not anti-Semitic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat