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French comedian arrested after Charlie Hebdo gag

By Ingrid Melander

A French comedian was detained for questioning on Wednesday for writing on his Facebook account he felt “Charlie Coulibaly,” a word play combining the widespread “I am Charlie” vigil slogan and the name of one of the three gunmen.

More than 3.7 million people marched through the streets of France on Sunday, many of them holding “I am Charlie” signs to honour the memory of the Charlie Hebdo journalists, policemen and kosher shop clients killed by Islamist gunmen last week.

Prosecutors launched Monday an inquiry on potential charges of glorifying terrorism against Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has already faced accusations of anti-Semitism and has mocked the killing of US reporter James Foley by Islamic State militants.

Dieudonne won international attention last year after former France striker Nicolas Anelka celebrated an English Premier League goal with a salute popularised by him and which critics say has an anti-Semitic connotation.

Amedy Coulibaly, whose name inspired the joke, killed a policewoman and four clients of a kosher shop last week in Paris, two days after two gunmen shot 12 people at and near the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said this week European officials should work more closely with Internet companies to eliminate hate speech and content glorifying terrorism.

Dieudonne, Paris-born son of a Cameroonian father and French mother, says he is not anti-Semitic. He has been repeatedly fined for hate speech in France where local authorities in several towns have banned his shows as a threat to public order.

His lawyer Jacques Verdier told BFM-TV that arresting him for the “Charlie Coulibaly” comment was “completely out of proportion.” If condemned for glorifying terrorism, Dieudonne could face up to seven years in jail and 5,000 euro ($5,868) in fine.

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