(JTA) — Amid an investigation into his finances and bans on his shows because of anti-Semitic content, French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala said he would abandon his nationwide tour.
The comedian made the announcement Saturday at a news conference in which Dieudonne, whose mother was born in Cameroon, appeared dressed in traditional West African garb.
“Today, a page is turned and I am switching to other things,” Dieudonne said in reference to his new show, “The Wall,” which he was supposed to take on tour beginning last Thursday but which ground to a halt after France’s highest court upheld a ban on the show that several municipalities have imposed.
His announcement also follows reports that French authorities suspect that he is hiding revenues to avoid paying $89,000 in fines that have been imposed on him for inciting racial hatred against Jews – an offense of which he has been convicted seven times. Legally speaking, Dieudonne is penniless and unable to pay the debts, yet his shows at the Main D’Or theatre in Paris are sold out, RTL reported.
French authorities reportedly suspect that he colluded with associates to give the impression of bankruptcy. In addition, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls was filmed saying on Jan. 7 that Dieudonne “was financed by Iran, after all.”
Dieudonne told reporters that: “As we are living in a state with laws, of course one needs to conform to the law.” He spoke in a serious tone and without the ironic pomp and mumblings that have become his trademark in past appearances and false expressions of regret for spreading anti-Semitic ideas.
“In my work as a humorist I have tried to push the boundaries of the public debate and of laughter, and the judiciary has expressed its position on this,” he said in reference to a ruling on Jan. 9 by France’s highest court which banned him from performing in the western city of Nantes. “I have angered many people and I will continue to do so, through laughter.”
Despite his seven convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, Dieudonne said: “Clearly, I am not a Nazi, I’m not an anti-Semite.”