French court scraps ban on Dieudonne show

A French court scrapped a municipal ban on a performance by the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.

The administrative court in Nantes on Thursday rejected an argument by a municipal administrator, Christian de Lavernée, that a performance by Dieudonne would create a disturbance to public order and “cause offense to basic human dignity,” Le Monde reported.

Dieudonne had petitioned the court to overturn the ban, which had been imposed earlier this week at the behest of French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

The show, which will take place Thursday night in the western French city, is scheduled to be the first performance in a nationwide tour by Dieudonne of his new routine, “The Wall.”

On Jan. 6, Valls sent a letter to all French mayors assuring them they had the authority to ban shows by Dieudonne, who has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews with jokes about the Holocaust, calls for the liberation of killers of Jews and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, among other actions.

He was scheduled to appear on Jan. 26 in Bordeaux, one of several French cities that have banned his show at Valls’ encouragement.

The ruling came amid criticism that Valls’ attempts to ban Dieudonne’s shows were too restrictive of freedom of expression.

Jack Lang, a Jewish former cabinet minister and head of the Paris-based Arab World Institute, said Tuesday during a television interview that he was “convinced that [Valls’] circular does not conform to French law.”

Lang added: “Freedom of expression is the governing principle when the state places such rigorous restrictions and there need to be very strong reasons for doing so.”