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French rapper accused of anti-Semitism set to perform in Montreal

Jewish groups are urging L’Olympia owners to reconsider.

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A controversial French rapper whose songs contain anti-Semitic lyrics is set to perform in Montreal next month and face condemnation from Jewish groups, one of which said it was surprised the venue hadn’t learned how the world responded to the American’s recent comments Rappers got Kanye West.

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The rapper in question, Freeze Corleone, has been reprimanded in a variety of ways for his lyrics, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs noted in a statement. After singing lines like “Raise an empire like young Adolf, determined with big ambitions like young Adolf”, Freeze Corleone’s contract with Universal Music France was terminated in 2020, streaming platforms removed the content and he was subsequently investigated for sedition.

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Nevertheless, the rapper is scheduled to perform at the Olympics on December 4th.

In a letter sent to the venue on Friday, B’nai Brith urged owners to cancel.

“Providing a platform for hatred and anti-Semitism is often deadly and always dangerous,” said the letter, which was signed by Marvin Rotrand, national director of the B’nai Brith League for Human Rights.

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The letter was preceded by a statement from CIJA, which cited no fewer than 12 problematic lines from the rapper’s repertoire as examples of anti-Semitism.

“It is troubling that there is an audience for hateful rhetoric, but as rising incidents of antisemitism in Canada and around the world show, hatred of Jews, bigotry and racism continue to fester,” CIJA Quebec Vice President Eta Yudin said in the statement. “We should not be blind to messages of Nazi ideology, Hitler or the apologists of the Third Reich, to conspiracy theories or the downplaying of the Holocaust. We know too well where they lead.”

Le Devoir reported that the venue’s owners – who did not respond to a request from the Montreal Gazette – decided to let the concert go ahead in the name of freedom of expression. The report noted that both owners are Jewish.

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“Despite the opening of an investigation in France, he was never found guilty of incitement to hatred or anti-Semitism,” the Olympia told Le Devoir. “We believe that it is not for Olympia to judge in the face of a controversy over an artist’s guilt.”

Rotrand said the situation had nothing to do with freedom of expression.

“Olympia hides behind the fact that there is yet to be a criminal conviction against this rapper for hate speech to claim that he is not responsible for canceling his show,” he wrote, adding that a French minister Freeze Corleone publicly because of his “unspeakable anti-Semitism.”

“Unfortunately, despite its close association with anti-Semitism and hatred, Freeze Corleone is currently scheduled in your theater,” the letter reads. “Recently, artist Kanye West, who emulated Corleone’s anti-Semitism, faced harsh backlash. We’re surprised Olympia didn’t learn from the public’s reaction to Kanye West.”

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CIJA’s Yudin hopes Quebecers will boycott the show to make a “stronger collective statement against hate.”

“We count on our Quebec compatriots to show that his values ​​are not aligned with those we hold dear,” Yudin said. “It is the responsibility of each of us to fight hate and anti-Semitism, and we hope that appearing here does not become a platform to incite hatred against any group.”

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