A Jewish group is asking a Montreal hall to cancel a performance by a French rapper whose music it describes as “openly anti-Semitic and hateful”.
B’nai Brith Canada sent a letter Friday to the owners of the L’Olympia theater in Montreal, urging them to cancel a December 4 show by musician Freeze Corleone.
“Mr. Corleone is openly anti-Semitic and hateful,” reads the letter signed by Marvin Rotrand, national director of the B’nai Brith Human Rights League.
“He has continued to exploit and abuse his platform to adopt a particularly virulent anti-Semitism.”
In an interview on Sunday, Rotrand said Freeze Corleone compared himself to Adolf Hitler and his lyrics include Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic tropes.
“His lyrics are clearly anti-Semitic, practically fomenting hatred and violence against Jews,” he said.
“There’s Holocaust denial and expressed pleasure that the Holocaust happened, and clear lyrics comparing himself to Hitler.”
Rotrand says his band will speak to the Canada Border Services Agency and Quebec authorities in hopes the artist won’t be allowed to perform.
The rapper’s albums have drawn a lot of criticism in France, especially from the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism.
In 2020, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted that the government was exploring the possibility of prosecuting Freeze Corleone over comments the politician called “unspeakable” Nazi apologia and anti-Semitism.
But Rotrand said the artist does not appear to have been convicted of a hate crime.
The Olympia management team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Rotrand said they appeared to be citing freedom of speech as justification for allowing the show.
“We don’t think hate speech is free speech,” Rotrand said, adding that he doesn’t think the venue would be so accepting of an artist who wrote racist lyrics targeting black people or Asians.
Increase in reports of antisemitic incidents
The letter sent by B’nai Brith to the venue reported on the recent backlash against American artist Kanye West, who was dropped by his talent agency and other partners after anti-Semitic comments.
Rotrand said theater management has yet to respond directly to B’nai Brith’s letter.
The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs also released a statement denouncing the upcoming broadcast, which comes as reports of anti-Semitic incidents grow around the world.
“We should not be blind to the messages of Nazi ideology, Hitler or Third Reich apologists, conspiracy theories or the trivialization of the Holocaust,” said Eta Yudin, Quebec vice-president of the ‘organization.
“We know all too well where they lead.”
CIJA said if the venue’s owners don’t cancel, they should at least donate proceeds to “causes that promote education, peace and coexistence,” like the Holocaust Museum in Montreal.
The Canadian Press was unable to reach Freeze Corleone management for comment.