Monday, 13 January 2014


French elite attempts at silencing pro-Black and Brown Resistance Comedian

By Hafsa Kara

Ever since West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka performed a 'quenelle' to celebrate his goal against West Ham the world of sports, led by Anelka's native France, has gone into a frenzy. The hand gesture invented by French stand up comic Dieudonne was first performed in 2009 and aimed at his country's establishment.

Dieudonne, a black performer whose father is from Cameroon, first attracted the ire of the French system when he tried to raise funds to direct a film on slavery. Cinema production is heavily subsidised by the government in France. Funding was refused and he was told slavery interested no one. When he requested slavery gain the same level of coverage as the holocaust, he was accused of drawing a parallel with a tragedy that had no equivalent in human history. In his work he started to target media bosses and the French media system, the close ties some TV bosses had with government or various influential lobbies such as the pro Israel ones namely Licra or Crif. While his material mocked various forms of extremisms, in 2004 he performed a routine on live tv dressed as a Jewish extremist settler in military fatigues, that would change his life.

Initially, the number received a warm reception however within days the various organisations such as the CRIF, France's equivalent of Aipac, launched an unprecedented attack on him giving him the inevitable label of anti-Semite. He was consequently taken to court, refused access on TV programmes and his national tours were being forced to shut down by local councillors. The large scale media grinding machine that routinely labels any critic of Israel as an anti-Semite, an Islamist extremist, a loony conspiracy theorist went into overdrive. Overnight, the mainstream media went from describing him as France's favourite jester to 'controversial' and then ' notorious anti Semite', a label few can recover from.

However that was not counting on Dieudonne's determination to prove his critics wrong and continue to perform. His material which touches on various subjects including domestic violence or Islamist extremism meant that despite the media black-out, he continued to attract growing numbers of fans.

Refusing to apologies, he was forced to perform from caravans or on the pavement and slowly but surely his loyal fans kept proving the media machine wrong. Incensed by the double standard displayed by French media when tackling the thorny issue of racism, Dieudonne gained an even greater fan base amongst the immigrant population of France. As an example Michel Leeb, a hugely popular French comic, would often mock Sub Saharan Africans while imitating gorillas! While this shocked no one, Dieudonne's portrayal of an extremist Jewish settler was deemed anti-Semitic.

In recent years, social media and the internet greatly aided Dieudonne. Despite his pariah status bestowed on him by officialdom he continued to challenge the system. In the last four years he has been performing to sold out venues. In 2009 he came up with the infamous 'quenelle' gesture, a cross between a two finger and a 'bras d'honneur'. A sort of 'F.U' to the system. The 'quenelle' is a vulgar gesture and scatological in meaning inspired by the shape of the dish from Lyon yet is in no way an inverted Nazi salute and was never presented as such.

In the four and half years Dieudonne has been opening and closing his shows with a 'quenelle', no one has found it to be racist and even less so anti-Semitic. However over the past few months he launched a challenge to have his fans perform quenelles wherever they could. One of his most striking coups was when the national team of volley was photographed doing a 'quenelle' in the presence of French president Holland in front of the Elysee Palace! It has become an almost national sport with people having their pictures taken everywhere and in front of many celebrities. Up until then no one had compared this to a Nazi salute, but with its ever increasing success, the French system had to find a way of putting an end to this trend...and as ever, brandishing something Nazi was the most successful way of going about it!

Dieudonné UK support group

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this piece. I'm very interested in this matter but looking at it from bordering country Belgium it remains difficult for me to get a clear vision. What is your opinion on Dieudonné's affiliation with several extreme right figures like Gollnisch and Soral? All sympathy disappeared when I heard about that.