Dieudonné under investigation for Paris shootings remark
Notorious French comedian Dieudonné has been placed under investigation for “inciting terrorism” after he posted a comment on Facebook that appeared to sympathise with one of the gunmen involved in last week’s Paris attacks, prosecutors said Monday.
"Tonight, as far as I'm concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly", Dieudonné, who has several convictions for making anti-Semitic remarks and jokes, wrote in a post that has since been deleted from his Facebook page.
The comment was a play on “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), the phrase that has become a rallying cry following the massacre of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday. But it uses the last name of Amédy Coulibaly – the gunman who murdered four people at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday.
Coulibaly, who prosecutors say was also behind the fatal shooting of a policewoman in the French capital on Thursday, was killed when police stormed the supermarket and freed the surviving hostages.
He is believed to have acted in coordination with Said and Chérif Kouachi, the brothers responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shootings, who were also killed in a police raid Friday.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited the heart of Paris’s Jewish quarter on Monday, described Dieudonné's remarks as "contemptible".
Dieudonné: 'I’m no different from Charlie'
In an open letter to Cazeneuve published online Monday, Dieudonné responded to the minister’s criticism, accusing the French government of “trying to kill me by any means”.
“For a year, I have been treated like public enemy number one, while I seek to do nothing but make people laugh,” he wrote.
Defending his right to freedom of speech, he compared himself to Charlie Hebdo, which frequently sparks debates over its controversial content, such as publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
“When I speak … you look for a pretext to ban me. You consider me an Amédy Coulibaly, while I'm no different from Charlie,” he said.
Dieudonné made his controversial Facebook post after attending Sunday's unity march against extremism that brought more than 1.5 million people on to the streets of Paris in the wake of the attacks.
He described the march, considered the biggest rally in modern French history, as "a magical moment comparable to the big-bang".
The comedian, whose full name is Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, made international headlines in 2013 when French footballer Nicolas Anelka was banned for five matches by English football authorities for using a hand gesture created by Dieudonné that many people consider anti-Semitic.
Called a “Quenelle”, the gesture has been described as a variation of a Nazi salute.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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