Saturday, January 21, 2006

Imagine that, an entertainer who likes to pop off his mouth on sensitive political and cultural matters

In this case, it's French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala whose fanbase cuts through a cross section of France's society, including many of the street youth who incited last fall's riots. Rosey Cohen pens a meaty news feature for Haaretz on the controversial Dieudonne. During the '90s, he became a well-liked comic for his role in a two-man show with a French-Jewish comedian. Now he spends a great deal of time appearing more prickly, mixing in clever and stinging anti-semitc diatribes into his act. Prime example of the new schtick:

... his harsh treatment of Israel and Jews certainly was cranked up a notch in that infamous television sketch on France 3 in which he appeared in the garb of an ultra-Orthodox Jew with long sidelocks and called on French Muslims "to convert and join the American-Zionist axis of good if they want to improve their quality of life." It was an obvious dig at the "axis of evil" term coined by Bush. Clad in his ultra-Orthodox costume, Dieudonne accused another guest on the program, a well-known Muslim entertainer, of being a dangerous terrorist and demanded that he remove his coat to show that he wasn't hiding a bomb on his body. Before exiting the stage, Dieudonne gazed directly into the camera and bid farewell to the audience with a Nazi-style salute, as he shouted "Isra-Heil!"

While still wildly popular with his fan base, many French are now staying away from his shows.

Cohen's article includes good analysis from Dieudonne's critics. She interviewed the controversial comic too and his quotes prove interesting, if not disturbing. Read it.


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