French interior Minister Manuel Valls instructed French mayors to ban performances by the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.
Valls sent the non-binding recommendation in a circular to French municipalities on Monday, days before Dieudonne is scheduled to launch a nationwide tour, the French news agency AFP reported.
“I have sent an instruction today to all mayors,” Valls said at a news conference near Paris. “It recalls that mayors and municipalities may prohibit a show if it risks creating a disturbance to public order.”
The text stipulates that the the mayors may ban shows that have served as crime scenes, if they are seen to abuse freedom of artistic expression or if they are “prone to undermine human dignity.”
Dieudonne has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews and is facing an eighth trial for suggesting during a show that the French Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen belonged in a gas chamber. He also is the originator of the quenelle, the increasingly popular gesture in France that has been called anti-Semitic and a quasi-Nazi salute.
“The mayors have the judicial means to act and I am sure they will,” Valls told reporters.
Patrick Rimbert, the mayor of Nantes in western France, has not banned the debut performance of Dieudonne’s tour, which is scheduled for Thursday. He did, however, tell the news site ouest-france.fr that he did not want Dieudonne to perform in his city.
Several prominent campaigners against anti-Semitism, including the Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, have called on the municipality to ban the show and, failing that, for protesters to rally in front of the Zenith Theater where Dieudonne is scheduled to perform.