French comedian Dieudonne banned from entering Britain

Dieudonne, known for anti-Semitic rants, hoped to offer support to footballer in trouble

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 5:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 5:36am

The controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala has been banned from entering Britain after several of his shows were cancelled in France.

Dieudonne had said he would travel to the UK to support his friend, footballer Nicolas Anelka, who is facing a disciplinary hearing after performing a quenelle - an allegedly anti-Semitic gesture - during a Premier League match.

The Home Office has declared the performer persona non grata and warned he would not be allowed into the country.

The Home Office has sent out a warning to the airlines and other transport companies as well as border officials, saying that the performer, known by his stage name Dieudonne, is an "excluded" individual.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We can confirm that Mr Dieudonne is subject to an exclusion order. The home secretary will seek to exclude an individual from the UK if she considers that there are public policy or public security reasons to do so."

Several of Dieudonne's shows were banned in France last month at the start of a 22-date tour amid fears that his stereotypical portrait of Jews and mocking of the Holocaust were a risk to public order.

Dieudonne fans and civil liberties campaigners accused the French government of attacking free speech rights and of censorship. The comedian rewrote his shows dropping the most offensive material.

Anelka, a striker with West Bromwich Albion, has been charged by the Football Association after performing a quenelle when he scored a goal against West Ham on December 28.

The 34-year-old player said he was expressing his support for his friend Dieudonne, who claims to have invented the gesture, described by some as an inverted Nazi salute.

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 Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Anelka has insisted he is "neither anti-Semitic or racist". The hearing is not expected before the end of February.

France's interior minister, who supported the ban on Dieudonne's shows, said he was engaged in the "mechanics of hate".

The comedian is at the centre of several official and police inquiries after allegations of unpaid fines, the "fraudulent organisation of bankruptcy"and another claim he incited racial hatred.