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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 22:56 GMT
Paris show in anti-Semitism row
French comic Dieudonne addresses a crowd outside the Olympia theatre
Dieudonne's TV act was heavily criticised
A French comedian whose show was banned by a Paris theatre amid allegations of anti-Semitism has taken his act onto the pavement in protest.

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala told the crowd outside that he was fighting for freedom of expression.

The theatre cancelled Friday's shows on safety grounds, saying it had received several threatening phone calls.

The comedian provoked protests after appearing on television dressed as an Orthodox Jew and making a Nazi salute.


Dieudonne, who faced heavy criticism for the sketch, lost an appeal against the ban.

Paris police advised the theatre they could only guarantee security outside the venue in the light of threatening telephone calls and faxes opposing the comedian's performance.

"Tonight is a battle for freedom of expression," Dieudonne told an audience of around 300, flanked by as many police officers.

"Don't gag me - I am one of the few black performers on the French stage."

Dieudonne has insisted that he parodies various religious, political and ethnic groups in a humorous way but without malice.

This dispute comes a day after an unprecedented meeting was held n Brussels to address Jewish concerns that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.

European Commission head Romano Prodi told the conference that the EU would take firm action against anti-Semitism.


In another incident, a Norwegian gallery has removed a painting from an exhibition designed to challenge anti-Semitism after Israel's ambassador said it offended Jews.

The controversy centred on a red-and-white picture, entitled Anti-Semite in the Name of God, that contains the words "USA" and "Israel" with the letter-S in both replaced by a swastika.

Israel's ambassador to Norway, Liora Hertzl, told the gallery in Oslo she though it was unacceptable to link Israel and the United States to Nazism.

The artist, Chris Reddy, said the ambassador was using the fascists' own tool, censorship, and said his art challenged nationalism.

Last month, a brief diplomatic row was caused in neighbouring Sweden when the Israeli ambassador in Stockholm vandalised a work of art in the National Gallery of Antiquities, saying it was a terrible insult to the Israeli people.

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17 Jan 04  |  Europe
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17 Nov 03  |  Middle East

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