At approximately 7 a.m. today, French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala was detained for questioning after he made a remark about the attacks on Charlie Hebdo on his Twitter account. "Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly," Dieudonné tweeted. Translated, that sentiment is, "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly," and speaks simultaneously to Charlie Hebdo, its "Je Suis Charlie" slogan, and the name of one of the gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and four hostages last Thursday as part of the attacks in Paris.
Dieudonné shared a Facebook post describing these events. In it, he writes that his arrest was ordered by Bernard Cazeneuve, the Minister of the Interior. (As part of the French cabinet, Cazeneuve has a job similar to that of our Homeland Security chief.) The comedian claims 12 policemen came to his home and arrested him in front of his son. He also apologized for posting anything that appeared to be condoning terrorism.
It's impossible to ignore the irony of Dieudonné's arrest, as it took place on the same day the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo was released. According to the BBC, Dieudonné has previous convictions for "inciting anti-Semitism," resulting in court-appointed bans on several of his one-man shows last year. The comedian's trademark gesture — the "quenelle" — has also garnered criticism, as its origins are in the Nazi salute. (The Wikipedia page explains some strange connotations of this symbol.)
Prime Minister Manuel Valls noted that while France supports freedom of speech, that right shouldn't be interpreted as license to advocate anti-Semitism or racism. This is one of the limitations of French law, as Le Monde notes.
The original tweet has since been removed, but the comedian did post an explanation for what he was trying to say. "For a year, I've been treated as public enemy number one," he writes, likely speaking to his run-ins with authorities over anti-Semitic comments. "I'm being seen as an Amedy Coulibaly when I'm no different from Charlie."
Dieudonné's attempt here was to say that he's a satirist, just like the writers and illustrators at Charlie Hebdo. But, when he takes his own stab at satire, he's treated like a terrorist. "Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly," then, is his way of saying he feels like both the terrorist and the victim.
He posted an image to his Facebook page following the arrests that attempts to further clarify this notion. "A bearded man returning from the mill is not necessarily a terrorist," he writes above the image of a lumberjack.