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.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
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

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Recruitment Genius: BID Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With more than half the world's populati...

Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton A highly...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?