France Detains 54 for Defending Terrorism, Including Comic Dieudonne

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French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala arrives for his press conference in a theater in Paris, France, Jan. 11, 2014.Credit: AP

French comic Dieudonne has been detained for defending terrorism after posting comments on Facebook — since deleted — that seemed to support the attackers who left 17 dead in the Paris region. Authorities said a total of 54 people had been detained since the attacks for defending or glorifying terrorism.

The arrests are part of a broader French crackdown that includes a government push for tougher anti-terrorism measures after the attacks, the worst in France in decades.

Dieudonne, who popularized an arm gesture that resembles a Nazi salute and who has been convicted repeatedly of racism and anti-Semitism, was in detention Wednesday. His provocative performances were banned last year but he has a core following among many of France's disaffected young people.

France's government is preparing new anti-terrorism measures and says it want to crack down on anyone who defends terrorism. On Monday, a man who praised the attackers in a drunken rant while resisting arrest was sentenced to four years in prison.

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