Outrage at French comic’s award for Holocaust denier

The black French comedian Dieudonné provoked outrage at the weekend by giving a "heroism" award to a veteran Holocaust denier.

Dieudonné, who is known for making anti-Semitic remarks in his shows, handed the spoof award for "social unacceptability and insolence" to Robert Faurisson, an academic with a string of convictions for denying the existence of Nazi death camps in the Second World War.

Among the audience of 5,000 at Le Zénith theatre in Paris were the far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, several figures of the far left and a popular television host, Julien Lepers.

A stagehand dressed as a Jewish deportee with a yellow star on his chest gave M. Faurisson the award.

Dieudonné – full name Dieudonné M'bala M'bala – was once a kind of French Lenny Henry. Born to Cameroonian and Breton parents, his stand-up comedy satirised racial prejudices, including those of whites and blacks.

However, in the past five years, his shows have come to symbolise – some say foment – a new strain of anti-Semitism in France among Arab and black youths and on the "white" far left.

Dieudonné said: "I don't agree with all [M. Faurisson's] ideas. But for me, what counts most of all is freedom of expression."

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