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Facebook bans French comedian for anti-Semitism

By AFP | August 3rd 2020
French comedian Dieudonne has a loyal following in France, particularly in low-income suburban areas of major cities [Photo:Reuters]

Facebook said Monday it had permanently banned French comedian Dieudonne, a convicted anti-Semite, from its platform and from Instagram for content it said mocked Holocaust victims.

It also said some of his posts used "dehumanising terms against Jews".

"In line with our policy on dangerous individuals and organisations, we have permanently banned Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala from Facebook and Instagram," the company said in a statement, using his full name.

"Banning a person permanently from our services is a decision that we always weigh carefully, but individuals and organisations that attack others on the basis of what they are do not have a place on Facebook or Instagram," it added.

The comedian, who goes by his first name Dieudonne, had his YouTube channel cut off for similar reasons in June by mother company Google.

He had about 1.3 million followers on Facebook, and some 400,000 on YouTube.

The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism welcomed the ban as a "great victory", saying Dieudonne's posts "have done considerable and irreparable damage among young people."

The comedian has been convicted multiple times, in France and in Belgium, for comments opponents say are bluntly racist while a loyal following champion his right to free speech.

The performer is infamous for his trademark "quenelle" hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

Most recently, Dieudonne was fined 9,000 euros ($10,600) in November for posting a video deemed anti-Semitic by authorities.

He also received a two-month suspended jail term after saying he sympathised with one of the jihadists involved in the January 2015 attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Last year, Dieudonne was given a two-year jail sentence and a fine for tax fraud and money-laundering, under arrangements that allowed him to perform community service instead.

The French government has tried on several occasions to shut down the shows of Dieudonne who rails against the "Zionist lobby" which he claims controls the world.


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