Dieudonné ban welcomed

By Marcus Dysch, February 6, 2014
Dieudonné: dedicated a quenelle to the Queen (Photo: AP)

Dieudonné: dedicated a quenelle to the Queen (Photo: AP)

Jewish leaders have this week welcomed the Home Secretary’s ban on antisemitic comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala from entering Britain, calling it a “prompt and correct” decision.

The move came after Jewish groups had appealed to Theresa May to bar the performer, who is the inventor of the controversial quenelle gesture.

In a joint letter sent last week, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust had argued that any public performance by Mr Dieudonné in this country was “likely to incite hatred of Jews, based on his record in France.

“The controversy surrounding any such visit will itself also heighten communal tensions, will cause much unease to the Jewish community and may even trigger some antisemitic hate crimes.”

On Monday, a Home Office spokeswoman confirmed a banning order had been issued and said: “The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual from the UK if she considers that there are public policy or public security reasons to do so.”

The three Jewish groups thanked the government for its “prompt and correct decision… the exclusion order demonstrates this government’s opposition to antisemitism and will be warmly welcomed by both British and French Jews.”

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the government had been “brave” and called on other countries to take similar action.

At a performance in Switzerland, hours after the ban was announced on Monday, Mr Dieudonné responded by performing his quenelle gesture and dedicating it to the Queen.

The performer had previously indicated his intention to travel to London to support his friend Nicolas Anelka. The West Brom-wich Albion footballer is contesting a Football Association charge resulting from his making a quenelle gesture during a Premier League match.

An FA spokesman confirmed this week that the personal hearing requested by Anelka may be held before the end of the month. The FA could not comment on whether the ban on Mr Dieudonné would be taken into account.

Labour MP John Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, called on the FA to “follow through and institute a multi-match ban” on Anelka.

“The zero tolerance approach to racism in football must be consistently applied,” said Mr Mann.

But some free-speech campaigners questioned the move to bar the French performer, taking to social media to argue that he had a right to express his views, however controversial.

Meanwhile Kick It Out, the anti-racism group, said police had visited two teenagers it had reported for posting football-related antisemitic messages on Twitter.

One 15-year-old, from Bedfordshire, was given a warning, with a 16-year-old from Northamptonshire issuing an apology. The older boy also agreed to work with Kick It Out to promote the campaign’s work.

Last updated: 12:17pm, February 6 2014