MONTREAL — Canadian border services agents in Montreal sent convicted anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala back to France after he landed in Montreal for a series of ten sold-out shows.
The move on Tuesday came following his latest conviction in France only hours earlier for breaking hate speech laws, for which he was fined $11,400.
It also came in the wake of more than two weeks of pressure on Ottawa by Jewish groups to keep Dieudonne from entering Canada based on his numerous convictions in Europe over the last decade for hate speech and Holocaust denial.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre had said Dieudonne was not welcome.
“It would seem that the [Canadian Border Services Agency] made the right decision today,” said David Ouellette of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Through his incitement to violence, glorification of terrorism, and anti-Semitic vitriol, he was clearly not admissible to Canada.”
Dieudonne confirmed he had to depart Canada, “but I will return,” he said on his Facebook page. “I will be in Montreal tomorrow ‘in peace,’” he wrote, using the name of his planned show.
That comment led some news reports to speculate that he might try to return and enter Canada again on Wednesday for his first show.
Dieudonne, 50, had sold out shows in three Quebec cities, including a Montreal art gallery that was vandalized in apparent anticipation of his appearance there.
He was slated to perform in Montreal starting Wednesday, and then move on to Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City.
After his arrival in Montreal, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette, he was detained in the airport’s customs area until the decision was announced not to let him in.
Dieudonné has been popular in Quebec since 2004, but less so in recent years. He had shows canceled in 2012 because of the controversy surrounding him.
Countries that have barred the comedian include Great Britain and Hong Kong.
The show he was set to perform in Quebec was described by promoters as tame, but that did not allay the concerns of those opposed to his appearance.