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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 15:43 GMT
French comic in anti-Semitism row
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News

French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala
The comedian has vowed to busk outside the theatre
A French comedian has lost an appeal to stage his show on Friday at the renowned Olympia theatre in Paris.

Earlier this week the theatre cancelled the performance, after receiving threats sparked by a recent television appearance by Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala.

The comedian, known as Dieudonne, appeared dressed as an Orthodox Jew and raised his arm in a Nazi salute.

Dieudonne, who faced heavy criticism for the sketch, says he will stage his show outside the theatre instead.

"A climate of extreme tension" was how the theatre described the atmosphere leading up to its decision this week to cancel Dieudonne's performance.

It said it had received several threatening phone calls and could not guarantee audience safety.

Increased attacks

It is the latest in a series of cancellations for Dieudonne, who has been heavily criticised since he appeared on a French television show in December dressed as an orthodox Jew, and made a Nazi salute saying "Israe-heil".

The incident outraged Jewish groups in France.

At another Dieudonne show earlier this month in Lyon, at least two spectators were injured after a chemical agent was released into the audience.

Dieudonne, who has been asked to appear before a court as a result of the TV performance, said he regarded the ban by the Olympia as an infringement of his freedom of expression.

France has stepped up its attempts to tackle anti-Semitism over the past two years amid reports of an increasing number of attacks against Jewish targets.

The cancellation of Dieudonne's show coincided with a visit to France by Israeli President Moshe Katsav and a European Union conference on anti-Semitism, which took place in Brussels.

EU vows to tackle anti-Semitism
19 Feb 04  |  Europe

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