Dieudonné Backers Mock Jewish Martys of the Nazis and Islamic Murderer Mohamed Merah.
On 12 January 1944, the Gestapo occupying the French city of Bordeaux dispatched its Jews, who had been rounded up and imprisoned in their own majestic synagogue, to the death camps.
Fast-forward exactly 70 years and a photograph shows a group of youngsters standing outside the same synagogue, performing the now infamous quenelle gesture invented by the controversial French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala in 2005 and exported to Britain by footballer Nicolas Anelka.
The backdrop of the picture is a large stone plaque engraved A Nos Martyrs (to our martyrs) and bearing the names of the 365 people deported from inside the synagogue. In all, 5,000 Bordeaux Jews – out of a community of 6,200 – perished at the hands of the Nazis.
During the week Le Monde announced that the LICRA (Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme) and SOS racisme were bringing a court action for this.
At the end of December a ‘quenelle’ was made outside of the Jewish school, Ohr-Torah (ex-Ozar-Hatorah), where Islamist Mohamed Merah murdered three Jewish children and rabbi.
More in Libération.
There is a fine debate in the Observer today on the issues behind this.
Comrade Andrew Hussey, dean of the University of London Institute in Paris introduces this,
I suppose my starting point has to be that there is no doubt that Dieudonné is not so much a comedian but, rather, an attention-seeking racist and an antisemite. He certainly isn’t funny any more, if he ever was. He is, however, an expert in provocation, and that’s what his latest acts and statements, including the famous “quenelle”, are all about. More to the point, what he is really doing is testing the limits of French law – specifically the Loi Gayssot of 1990, the so-called loi anti-négationniste, which, among other things, effectively makes Holocaust denial (négationnisme in French) a crime. The belief system of Dieudonné and those of his followers is that the “French establishment” uses the memory of the Holocaust to exercise power over the marginalised populations of France and to reinforce Jewish interests. No one is trying to stop him believing this or expressing his views. The Loi Gayssot does, however, place limits on how far an individual can claim that crimes against humanity, as defined at the Nuremberg trials, did not happen – and that is the point of law that Dieudonné is challenging with his propaganda.
One may or may not agree with the Loi Gayssot – there is no such law in England – but from the Dreyfus affair, to the second world war, to the 2012 killings in Toulouse, there is hardly a more divisive, emotive, even lethal, issue in French society than antisemitism. That is why the Loi Gayssot exists, and why I sympathise with the exasperation of the French government, which is trying to act decently, if somewhat clumsily, in the face of the provocations of this rabble-rousing clown.
Padraig Reidy, senior writer at Index on Censorship continues
I’m glad neither of us is going to attempt to describe Dieudonné as anything other than what he is – a rabble-rousing bigot. Too often in discussions on free speech issues, people will attempt to downplay or deflect attention from the ugly facts, or attempt to rationalise other people’s bigotry. I hope I don’t fall into that trap.
See site for the rest of the article.
Dieudonné has responded, calling for the dissolution (loss of any legal status) of the LICRA
This is his public petition, (147,000 signatures to date)
La LICRA, Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme, au contraire de lutter contre ces idéologies fascistes qui portent atteinte à la notion même de la Nation, comme à celle d’Humanité, la LICRA, par ses actes est un trouble à l’ordre public perpétuel, perfide, et nocif au possible aux valeurs fondamentales garanties par les lois de la République, le venin despotique que ses dirigeants et membres veulent insuffler dans la veine démocratique, au profit de l’hégémonie esclavagiste américano-sioniste, imposée au peuple au niveau planétaire sous l’intitulé revendiqué « du nouvel ordre mondial »
The LICRA instead of fighting against fascist ideologies which harm the very essence of the Nation, indeed of Humanity itself, the LICRA by its acts has created public disturbances. It is insidious, and a danger to the fundamental values of the Republic, guaranteed by law. The despotic venom of its leaders has brought poison into the veins of our democracy, to establish the hegemony of the slave-drivers of American-Zionism, imposed on the peoples of the Planet to maintain the “new world order.”
Hussey and Reidy note the importance of anti-Semitism in French history.
But one should add, our beloved martyr, Jean Jaurès fought anti-Semitism tooth-and-nail.
As this short summary of his life indicates,
French socialist leader. Entering parliament (1885), his campaign on behalf of Dreyfus and against anti‐Semitism strengthened socialist support in France. In 1905 he formed the United Socialist Party, which put pressure on the radical governments in order to achieve reforms for the working class. He opposed militarism, but tried to reconcile socialist internationalism and French patriotism. He was assassinated by a French nationalist in 1914.
I note that Mélenchon calls this present fight a political and ideological battle and not a legal one.
The NPA also states that simply banning the shows is not the answer.
There is extreme doubt about the wisdom of a ban on his performances.
But…making such gestures of hate outside a synagogue….