LJP Youth: Controversial Comedian Dieudonné Can Teach Us Something

by Véronique Belinga

Véronique Belinga is part of a new initiative called LJP Youth. The LJP team has partnered with the Bilingual School of Marcq-en-Baroeul, a high school in Lille, France, to create a space for young, aspiring journalists to comment on the world around them. We hope you enjoy what they have to say.

French comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, popularly known as Dieudonné, has sparked a controversy all across France after being accused of inciting racial hatred in his shows. Some believe his jokes are a violation of French laws – for example, his denial of the Holocaust. Others believe freedom of expression allows him to make jokes like this. His shows have been canceled in numerous cities, but some still waited anxiously for his performances.

This controversy shows how divided the French are over an issue like the Holocaust. Many have protested against Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism, notably “la quenelle,” a gesture invented by the comedian, which was claimed to resemble the Nazi salute. Dieudonné insists his gesture is only a defiant one against the current institutions in France. In certain schools, the constant reminder of the Holocaust that this controversy has produced has confused some students, who feel that cancelling his shows is an overreaction.

My school revealed many differing views on the issue. Some believed his shows were extremely offensive, as they openly insulted a particular community, while others looked upon this situation as way of sending a message to those in power in France, who they deemed unable to handle France’s current problems, with the issue of genocide being only one example. One friend mentioned other genocides she felt were overlooked or not considered with enough importance. What about the Armenian genocide or, more recently, the massacres in Darfur?

The Holocaust caused approximately six millions deaths, including any groups that were considered inferior or those who did not share the Nazi ideologies. The Ottoman Empire killed half a million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. The Armenian Genocide was never considered a Holocaust, although the methods used were equally as horrific as the persecution of the Jews during World War II. In a way, Dieudonné has helped us look back into the past to remind us of other groups who have suffered that are not as frequently discussed.

It is essential we study and acknowledge past events as it gives out a clear image of how today’s society has been shaped. However, I believe we tend to look back into the past a lot more then we look into the present. We hardly speak of the tragedies occurring in Darfur even though they is happening at this hour.

As for Dieudonné, the continued controversy about whether or not his shows are anti-Semitic has only given him more publicity. Danièle Lochak, a professor in public law at the Paris-Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense, argued in his interview with Le Monde http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/01/07/on-s-achemine-vers-une-jurisprudence-dieudonne_4343753_3224.html that, “Dieudonné’s performances do not advertise themselves as anti-Semitic—even if they end up being so in fact.” In my opinion, Dieudonné deserves no credit for displaying such contempt towards a group as to provoke or defy our existing institutions.

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  1. […] Controversial comedian Dieudonné can teach us something. French comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, popularly known as Dieudonné, has sparked a controversy all across France after being accused of inciting racial hatred in his shows. Some believe his jokes are a violation of French laws – for example, his denial of the Holocaust. Others believe freedom of expression allows him to make jokes like this. His shows have been canceled in numerous cities, but some still waited anxiously for his performances. This controversy demonstrates how divided the French are over an issue like the Holocaust. Many have protested against Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism, notably “la quenelle,” a gesture invented by the comedian, which was claimed to resemble the Nazi salute. Dieudonné insists his gesture is only a defiant one against the current institutions in France. In certain schools, the constant reminder of the Holocaust that this controversy has produced has confused some students, who feel that cancelling his shows is an overreaction. […]

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