Dieudonné isn't welcome in Montreal, Mayor Denis Coderre says

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala routinely makes jokes about gas chambers and has publicly denied the Holocaust. He is booked to play 10 shows in Montreal next month.

French comedian has several convictions for violating hate speech laws in Europe

The French government has criticized Dieudonné's performances, accusing him of anti-Semitism. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, the controversial French comedian who routinely makes jokes about gas chambers and has publicly denied the Holocaust, isn't welcome in Montreal, Mayor Denis Coderre says.

The controversial French comedian, who performs as Dieudonné, is booked to play 10 shows in the city next month.

On Twitter on Friday, Coderre accused Dieudonné of inciting social tension and racial hatred in Europe.

"When you promote hatred, you promote social division," Coderre said Friday.

The comedian was found guilty last year in France of condoning terrorism, after posting a joke on his Facebook page about the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. He has also been convicted numerous times for defamation.

Dieudonné is scheduled to perform at Espace Mushagalusa, a small art gallery in downtown Montreal from May 11-16.

"If I was in charge, I would say, 'You don't have anything to do here.' We're at the eve of Passover. This is the capital of the living together and I think that freedom of speech doesn't include hatred … and he's not welcome," Coderre said.

Dieudonné has several previous convictions under hate speech laws in France and Belgium. Widely criticized in Quebec, previous shows booked in the province were cancelled.

Espace Mushagalusa owner Mushagalusa Chigoho said he's aware Dieudonné is controversial, and asked to review the script of the May show before agreeing to the booking.

"There was nothing insulting, nothing degrading, nothing racist," Chigoho said. 

"I can't be responsible for what he's said in the past."

Steven Slimovitch, a lawyer for B'nai Brith Canada, said he can't see why Canada would welcome someone who has been convicted of wilfully promoting hatred.

He said the comedian shouldn't be allowed in the country, and B'nai Brith will try to block his entry.

"Any citizen of Canada has a right to address a complaint to Canada Border Services Agency, which is what we've done in the past, which is what we will do again in the present situation," Slimovitch told CBC's Daybreak Montreal.

with files from Kristy Snell