France considers ban on 'anti-Zionist' voting lists
France is examining the possibility of banning the "anti-Zionist" voting lists French comedian Dieudonne wants to present for the European Parliament elections in June, a senior advisor of President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.
"The public authorities are currently looking into whether [Dieudonne's] initiatives are within the reach of the law," Claude Gueant, the secretary-general of the Elysee Palace, said on Sunday (3 May) on France's Radio J.
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"I am not sure that we will manage to prohibit them. We can only prohibit what the law allows to prohibit."
At the end of last month, the controversial comedian said he would present at least five "anti-Zionist" lists for the European elections in June, which would include Alain Soral, former member of the far-right National Front, and Yahia Gouasmi, president of the Anti-Zionist Party - a French nationalist movement.
During the press conference launching the campaign, Mr Gouasmi said: "Behind every divorce, there is a Zionist, I am telling you. Behind everything that divides human nature, there is a Zionist. This is what we believe and this is what we are going to prove."
Mr Gueant called the initiative "absolutely outrageous."
"Can somebody present himself at the elections with an openly anti-Semitic programme?" he said. "Dieudonne is anti-Semitic all the time."
The 43-year-old Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, the son of a French mother and Cameroonian father, has several times been given fines for making anti-Jewish comments, notably during his shows.
These included calling Jews "black slave traders" and claiming they exploit the Holocaust to avoid political criticism in what he called "memorial pornography."
'Only anti-Zionist list'
Reacting to the announcement, Mr Dieudonne stood by his idea.
"I think it is absolutely impossible to ban a list, a law would need to be passed [for this to happen] and the period of time is extremely short," he told French news agency AFP.
"We will be the only anti-Zionist list, the only list to frontally oppose that extremely powerful Zionist lobby of which Mr Gueant is the echo today as a good little soldier," he added.
For his part, Mr Soral attacked the fact that Mr Gueant's comments were made for Radio J, a radio station of the Jewish community.
"This is outrageous. What he [Claude Gueant] said, where he said it ... means that the state is following the orders of the Zionist lobby in France," he told AFP.
But Xavier Bertrand, the leader of the governing conservative UMP party, defended Mr Gueant's views.
"Lists that have hatred as their only engine have nothing to do with the democratic debate," he said.
Dieudonne should on Tuesday appear before the Magistrate's Court of Paris, following fresh accusations of "racial insults."
The same day, Israel's hard-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, will be meeting French government officials in Paris as a part of his tour aiming to reassure the Europeans about the new Israeli government's policy on peace with Palestine.