MONTREAL (JTA) – Canadian Border Services Agency officials in Montreal sent convicted anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala back to France on Tuesday after he landed in the city for a series of 10 sold-out shows.
Hours earlier, Dieudonné had been convicted again in France for breaking hate speech laws, for which he was fined $11,400.
Jewish groups had pressured the federal government for two weeks to keep Dieudonné from entering Canada based on his numerous convictions in Europe over the last decade for hate speech and Holocaust denial.
“It would seem that the [Canadian Border Services Agency] made the right decision today,” said David Ouellette of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Through his incitement to violence, glorification of terrorism and anti-Semitic vitriol, he was clearly not admissible to Canada.”
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre had said Dieudonné was not welcome.
Dieudonné confirmed he had to depart Canada, “but I will return,” he said on his Facebook page. “I will be in Montreal tomorrow ‘in peace,’” he wrote, using the name of his planned show.
The comment led some news reports to speculate that he might try to return and enter Canada again on Wednesday for his first show.
Dieudonné, 50, had sold out shows in three Quebec cities, including the Montreal art gallery that was vandalized in apparent anticipation of his appearance there. He was slated to perform in Montreal starting Wednesday, then move on to Trois-Rivières and Quebec City.
After his arrival in Montreal, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette, he was detained in the airport’s customs area until the decision was announced not to let him in.
Dieudonné has been popular in Quebec since 2004, but less so in recent years. He had shows canceled in 2012 because of the controversy surrounding him.
Countries that have barred the comedian include Great Britain and Hong Kong.
The show he was set to perform in Quebec was described by promoters as tame, but that did not allay the concerns of those opposed to his appearance.