French comedian Dieudonné seeks asylum in Turkey after hate speech ban

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French comedian Dieudonné seeks asylum in Turkey after hate speech ban

His accounts on YouTube and Facebook were shut down after he repeatedly shared antisemitic material

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Dieudonne M’bala M’bala
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala

French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, notorious for developing the quasi-Nazi “quenelle” salute, has said he will seek political asylum in Turkey because of the racism he experiences in his home country.

The activist and performer says he wants to leave France permanently because his opportunities to work are being obstructed.

“Freedom of expression no longer exists for people like me here [in France],” he told Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu.

“The Prime Minister of France has done everything so that I cannot organise shows in this country.”

The 55-year-old’s performances were banned in France following at least seven convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews.

The quenelle salute he has helped promoted was interpreted by authorities nearly a decade ago as an inverted Nazi salute.

The gesture became more widely recognised after it was used by the footballer Nicolas Anelka, a friend of the comedian, during a goal celebration for West Bromwich Albion in 2013.

Dieudonné pictured performing the quenelle with Nicolas Anelka

Anelka received a five-match ban and was sacked by the club, ending his career in top-level football.

Dieudonné told Anadolu this week that he will make a political asylum request to Turkey as soon as he completes legal formalities and that he will also write an open letter to the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“I think I will be feeling better and more comfortable in Turkey than in France.”

The French comedian’s YouTube account was one of 25,000 removed by the video-sharing website last year for violating its hate speech rules.

He was subsequently banned from Facebook and Instagram.

Dieudonné, who denies being antisemitic, blamed “Israeli pressures” for the removal.

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