Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Black comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala has been arrested for "defending terrorism" after a Facebook post in which he appeared to be sympathizing with the Muslim man who killed four people in a kosher supermarket and a policewoman in Paris
Dieudonne (known in France by his first name) has been taken into police custody in the wake of the now-deleted post he wrote after attending the recent unity and free-speech rally in Paris. It read, "Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly," making reference to both Islamic killer Amedy Coulibaly and the "Je Suis Charlie" ("I Am Charlie") phrase of support for Charlie Hebdo that's been circulating worldwide. Dieudonne is no stranger to French authorities. He's been called anti-Semitic for popularizing a Nazi-like salute, joking about the Holocaust, and poking fun of Jewish leaders in France. But his arrest brings up an inevitable debate: how a country that's taken to the streets to advocate for free speech may be trying to keep a lid on his. France doesn't enjoy the same free-speech liberties that the United States does — denying the Holocaust is illegal, for example, and more than 50 hate-speech investigations have opened since the attacks — but Dieudonne's lawyer says that this arrest was "totally exaggerated and [disproportionate]." The black comic himself said: "Whenever I express myself some people will not even try to understand me, they will not listen. ... I am looked upon as if I were Amedy Coulibaly, when I am no different from Charlie."