Comedy show cancelled over Jewish joke

Alex Duval Smith
Friday 20 February 2004 01:00

Dieudonné, the French stand-up comic who was due to perform tonight at the prestigious Olympia in Paris, has had his show cancelled after being accused of anti-Semitism.

The lawyer of the half-French, half Cameroonian performer said yesterday that Universal Music, owners of the 2,000-capacity Olympia, had cancelled the show on the grounds that they could not guarantee the safety of the performer nor of his audience.

Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, 38, has had six shows cancelled in France and Switzerland as a result of a sketch on France 3 Television in December. Dressed in military fatigues and a wide-brimmed hat associated with Orthodox Jews, he said: "I urge all of you [viewers] to convert like me [to Judaism]. Join the axis of Good, the American-Zionist axis." He ended his sketch with a Nazi salute and the cry "Isra-Heil".

Several French comics, including Guy Bedos and Dieudonné's Jewish former performance partner, Elie Semoun, criticised the comic, saying he had gone too far. Dieudonné says he is himself of mixed race and knows no borders.

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