Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, a controversial French comic who appeared to have praised one of the Islamist killers in last week's Paris attacks, was taken into custody Wednesday for being an “apologist for terrorism.” Prosecutors opened a case against him Monday after he posted a comment on Facebook that apparently sympathized with Amédy Coulibaly, who took six people hostage in a kosher store Friday, four of whom were later killed during a standoff with security forces.
“Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” Dieudonné had written in a post on Facebook, according to The Guardian. The comedian reportedly posted the comment after he attended a demonstration against extremism in Paris on Sunday, which was attended by over 1.5 million people. He also said that the march was “a magical moment comparable to the big bang.” Dieudonné’s shows have previously been banned by the French government, which has called them “antisemitic.”
Dieudonné’s comments faced a severe backlash on social media following which the post was removed from his page in under an hour, according to The Independent. Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, called the comment “abject” and asked officials to consider prosecuting him for breach of a French law against an “apology for” or encouragement of terrorism. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, on Tuesday, called Dieudonné a “peddler of hate" and urged people to differentiate between the "impertinent" satire of Charlie Hebdo and the comedian's "anti-semitism, racism and negationism," according to The Independent.
A year ago, Dieudonné had received flak internationally after footballer Nicolas Anelka performed a gesture called the “quenelle,” which resembles a Nazi salute, during a match, The Associated Press reported. The gesture was popularized by Dieudonné and was also performed by San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker in 2013. Dieudonné’s shows, which were of a provocative nature, were also banned last year by the French government.
Seventeen people were killed in last week's attacks in Paris, including 12 people at the office of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. The attack on the magazine claimed the lives of 10 journalists and two policemen. A policewoman was killed in an attack in the Parisian suburb of Montrouge, while the attack at the kosher market claimed the lives of four hostages. Coulibaly was later killed by police forces.
Following the attacks, prosecutors in Paris have detained 54 people so far for glorifying terrorism, according to AP. The French government is currently pushing for stricter anti-terrorism law after the attack, which is considered to be the worst one in the country in decades.