MONTREAL (JTA) – B’nai Brith in Montreal is trying to block the entry into Canada of French comedian Dieudonné, who has multiple convictions and fines for making anti-Semitic statements against Jews in France and Belgium.
Dieudonné, whose full name is Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, is slated to appear May 11-16 at 10 sold-out shows in a 200-seat art gallery theatre in Montreal’s east end.
B’nai Brith Canada is filing a complaint with the Canada Border Services Agency, “like any other citizen of Canada has the right to [do],” organization lawyer Steven Slimovitch told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Montreal mayor Denis Coderre made it clear that the comedian is not welcome.
“When you promote hatred, you promote social division,” Coderre posted on Twitter.
Dieudonné, 50, is infamous for using his act to make outrageous comments about Jews, Israel, and terrorism, including Holocaust denial.
In 2015, he was charged and convicted in France of being pro-terrorist for a Facebook post in which he defended the gunman who attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris, killing four Jewish patrons.
Over the past decade, Dieudonné has used his act to deny the Holocaust and excoriate Jews and Israel. He sometimes has displayed an arm gesture called the “quenelle,” a quasi-Nazi salute.
In 2012, a series of shows in Montreal were cancelled due to Dieudonné’s notoriety.
The comedian has steadfastly denied he is anti-Semitic.
The show in Montreal, called Dieudonné en Paix (Dieudonné in Peace), has been described as tamer than his usual material.
“There [is] nothing insulting, nothing degrading, nothing racist,” art gallery owner Mushagalusa Chigoho told the CBC.
Still, David Ouellette, of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, does not believe the defence of Dieudonne.
“It is safe to say that Dieudonné no longer is a comedian,” Ouellette told the CBC. “He has become an anti-Semitic activist. He is a vile, vile promoter of the most heinous anti-Jewish rhetoric.”
Ouellette expressed doubt that Canadian authorities would allow Dieudonné into Canada given his multiple convictions in Europe.