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French comedian Dieudonne banned from entering UK

By Claudia Rebazza, CNN
updated 12:04 PM EST, Mon February 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dieudonne M'bala M'bala has been widely associated with the "quenelle" gesture
  • Many people say his trademark gesture is a Nazi salute in reverse
  • Comedian has voiced support for soccer player penalized for gesture

London (CNN) -- The French comedian at the center of the controversy over the "quenelle" gesture has been banned from entering Britain, UK authorities said Monday.

Dieudonne M'bala M'bala has been widely associated with the gesture -- which involves pointing the right arm straight down and touching that arm with the left hand -- that many believe is a Nazi salute in reverse.

Dieudonne counters that it is anti-establishment but not anti-Semitic.

"We can confirm that Mr. Dieudonne is subject to an exclusion order," Britain's Home Office said.

"The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual from the UK if she considers that there are public policy or public security reasons to do so."

The comedian has voiced his support for controversial French soccer star Nicolas Anelka, who faces a possible five-match suspension after being charged by the English Football Association for making a "quenelle" gesture in December.

The 34-year-old striker made the sign after scoring for his Premier League team, West Bromwich Albion, against West Ham on December 28.

Anelka has insisted that the gesture was a dedication to his friend Dieudonne.

The 46-year-old Dieudonne, who ran in the European elections as an anti-Zionist, has been fined several times in France for anti-Semitic commentary. The French government said last month that it wanted to ban his live performances.

READ: French comic banned: Victory for French values?

READ: Anti-Semitism row shines light on fractured French society

CNN's Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report.

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