Surrounded by hundreds of police, French comedian Dieudonne took his act out onto the streets of Paris on Friday after his show at a top theatre was cancelled due to an anti-Semitism row.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala appeared in a television sketch in December dressed as an Orthodox rabbi and gave a Nazi salute. The Olympia theatre cancelled Friday’s planned show due to security fears after protests marred previous performances.
“Tonight is a battle for freedom of expression,” Dieudonne told an audience of around 300, flanked by as many police officers, gathered outside the Olympia in central Paris.
“Don’t gag me — I am one of the few black performers on the French stage,” added Dieudonne, whose father is Senegalese.
He went on to perform parts of his stage act, including a sketch that mocked the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. landmarks.
Dieudonne, once known for performing in Ku Klux Klan robes alongside a Jewish childhood friend dressed as an SS officer, denied he was anti-Semitic or racist.
He has said the sketch, which provoked an uproar among French Jewish groups, was meant to criticise Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s policies towards Palestinians.0