Controversial French comedian Dieudonné denied entry to Hong Kong, Cyberport shows cancelled
French performer flies back to Paris after being detained and two shows are cancelled
A controversial “hate-speech” comedian with links to the far-right was on a plane back to Paris last night after being denied entry to Hong Kong where he had hoped to perform two shows.
French comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala was detained by immigration officials at Hong Kong International Airport shortly after 7:30am yesterday after arriving on a flight from Bangkok following a trouble-free show in the Thai capital.
The block on Dieudonne’s entry came after high-level diplomatic interventions by Israel and France, who warned that his planned appearances – at a Cyberport venue last night and tonight – could have led to disorder and even violence if they went ahead.
While declining to comment on an individual case, a spokesman for the Immigration Department said: “We are committed to upholding effective immigration control by denying the entry of undesireables.’’
Dieudonne, who has convictions for inciting racial hatred through his anti-Semitic jokes and comments, insists the gesture is simply anti-establishment. However, he has failed to distance himself from groups and individuals who have posted photographs of themselves doing the quenelle outside synagogues, Holocaust memorials, Jewish schools and even at the infamous Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland.
After seven hours of questioning the comedian was released.
Speaking from France his son, Merlin M’bala M’bala , told the South China Morning Post that his father had been told entry was denied “for immigration reasons”.
“The official explanation they gave was for an ‘immigration reason.’ They didn’t explain more, ” Merlin M’bala M’bala said.
“It seems the immigration officers were aware of his arrival and were waiting for him. Dieudonné wanted to enter as a normal French citizen that has always wanted to visit Hong Kong, which was part of the reason he came,” the son added.
According to organisers, around 300 people were set to watch M’bala M’bala perform over the two nights.
Local fan David Chevalier, who was due to watch the performance, criticised what he called the authorities attempts to smoother free speech. “It seems all the speech of Dieudonné about freedom, and freedom of speech in Hong Kong and therefore in China is finally hopeless.”
M’bala M’bala tried to enter Hong Kong as a tourist after delays to his working visa application meant it did not arrive in time. “Immigration clearly blocked this working visa,” Merlin claimed.
Israeli consul general Sagi Karni praised the government for “taking the right measures.”
“Who wants to import anti-Semitism, racism, holocaust denial and sympathy to Jihadist terrorists into this beautiful society?” he said.
A spokesman for the French consulate said they were not aware that the comic’s group had been detained.
Last week, M’bala M’bala told the Post he would come to Hong Kong to perform and promote peace.
The types of individuals blocked from entering Hong Kong in recent years has varied. Mainly, political activists have been affected, including Xiong Yan, a former Tiananmen Square protestor and exiled dissident, who was blocked last April after arriving at the airport.