Montreal

Dieudonné says he's going home after landing in Montreal

On his Facebook page, Dieudonné posted on Tuesday he will return to Montreal tomorrow "in peace" — a reference to the title of his scheduled Montreal performance on Wednesday. He did not state why he was leaving Canada.

Controversial French comic has performances planned in Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières

The French government has criticized Dieudonné's performances as anti-Semitic and racist. (Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press)

A controversial French comic who landed in Montreal on Tuesday is on his way home.

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, who goes by the stage name Dieudonné, has been scheduled to perform 10 shows in a small art gallery in Montreal starting Wednesday and has other shows planned in Trois-Rivières and Quebec City.

On his Facebook page, Dieudonné posted on Tuesday he will return to Montreal tomorrow "in peace" — a reference to the title of his scheduled Montreal performance on Wednesday. He did not state why he was leaving Canada.

However, passengers on the same flight claim Dieudonné was met by two border agents when the plane landed in Montreal, according to Radio-Canada.

The comedian has publicly denied the Holocaust and frequently makes jokes about gas chambers and Jewish conspiracies.

He's been convicted and fined numerous times for violating hate speech laws in Europe.

On Tuesday, Dieudonné was found guilty of violating hate speech laws in France and handed a €10,000 ($14,734) fine and a two-month suspended jail sentence, French media reported. 

The conviction is related to a show where he dressed up like a detainee from Guantanamo Bay, mocked the Holocaust and suggested Jews were active in the slave trade.

Should he be allowed in Canada?

Despite the controversy, Dieudonné remains popular in France and around the world: His official Facebook page has more than one million likes.

It goes without saying that discriminatory comments will not be tolerated.- Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly

His detractors call him a racist and an anti-Semite, while his fans say they appreciate his defiance of authority and his comic routines that regularly target what he calls the hypocrisy and discriminatory policies of the French political elite.

On Monday, federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said she wouldn't go to his show but stopped short of saying he shouldn't be allowed into Canada.

"It's up to [border agents] to make a decision based on his past," said Joly, who represents the Montreal riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville. "It goes without saying that discriminatory comments will not be tolerated."

The Canada Border Services Agency has some discretion in admitting people to the country with criminal records depending on the charges. The agency won't comment on specific cases.

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative immigration critic, has argued Dieudonné should be denied entry to Canada.

Gallery owner Mushagalusa Chigoho said that, as far as he knows, the shows will go ahead as planned.

'Crossing the line'

Dieudonné tour promoter Gino Ste-Marie, who is based in Quebec City, said he recognizes the comic has in the past "crossed the line of what is acceptable."

He was scheduled to perform in Montreal in 2012, but the shows were cancelled after the promoter bowed to pressure.

Ste-Marie says the comic's show, entitled "Dieudonné en Paix" ("Dieudonné Coming in Peace"), is unlike his past performances, and the public figures who have come out against him "haven't done their homework."

"We live in a free Quebec," he said, and people have the right to listen to people who others might find distasteful.

With files from Steve Rukavina, Radio-Canada and The Canadian Press

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