On Tuesday, the French police arrested the controversial French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. He had written on Facebook “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” — a mashup of Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four Jewish hostages in a kosher supermarket in Paris, in an attack linked to the Charlie Hebdo killers. Mr. M’bala M’bala, the police say, is being investigated for “defending terrorism.”
This is not the first time that he has been targeted by the authorities. Last year, the courts banned his stage show, and he has been convicted several times for anti-Semitic hate speech. But for his supporters, many of whom live on the outskirts of French cities in the banlieues that are home to much of France’s North African population, the attempts to silence Mr. M’bala M’bala exemplify the double standards of French society. The right of a satirical magazine to mock Islam is held sacred, they argue, yet Muslims are forbidden to express views that others may consider offensive.