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French Activist Faces Deportation over Anti-Jewish and Russian Ties

The French authorities have launched proceedings to strip the citizenship of a prominent pan-Africanist writer and activist with a long record of viscerally antisemitic comments who is also closely aligned with Russia’s ruling regime.

The activist, Kémi Séba — who was born in the city of Strasbourg to parents who immigrated from the west African state of Benin — revealed on social media last Thursday that he had received a letter from the French Ministry of Interior informing him that the procedure to remove his nationality had been initiated due to his “constant and current resolutely anti-French posture, likely to seriously harm French interests and likely to characterize manifest disloyalty towards the country of which you are a national.”

The 42-year-old Séba, whose real name is Stellio Gilles Robert Capo Chichi, has been closely associated in the past with Dieudonné, a French antisemitic agitator who bills himself as a comedian, and Alain Soral, a notorious far right Holocaust denier. In 2006, Séba first made himself known when he led a Black nationalist group known as Tribu Ka on an antisemitic demonstration in the historically Jewish Marais quarter of Paris. While the group subsequently disbanded, Séba continued with his activities, serving short prison sentences in 2009, 2011 and 2014 for violent behavior.

Séba has frequently invoked antisemitic tropes in his writings. In one article published in 2009, he accused international institutions including the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the International Monetary Fund of being “controlled by the Zionists who impose on Africa and its diaspora living conditions so execrable that the concentration camp of Auschwitz can seem like a paradise on earth.”

During the 2010s, Séba moved to Africa, where his activism saw him expelled in turn from Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. In 2018, the US authorities began monitoring his activities as he drew closer into Russia’s orbit, joining forces with Yevgeni Prigozhin, the late head of the Wagner mercenary group, to spread pro-Moscow propaganda throughout Africa. “Two influencers serve as vital nodes of Prigozhin’s network: French-Beninese Kémi Séba and Swiss-Cameroonian Nathalie Yamb,” a Nov. 2022  State Department briefing noted. It further observed that “Séba’s anti-western narratives intensified following Russia’s further [Feb. 24, 2022] invasion of Ukraine. In February 2022, Séba gave an exclusive interview to Prigozhin’s RIA FAN and posted a Facebook video (over 1.6 million views) defending Russia’s actions and blaming the West and NATO for destroying the USSR, encircling Russia, and arming former Soviet republics to threaten Russia the same way the West ‘destroyed and dismantled’ Africa.”

Under Article 25 of the French civil code, individuals who attained French nationality through immigration can have their citizenship stripped if they act in a manner deemed by the authorities to run counter to the national interest.

Séba responded defiantly to the proceedings against him on social media. “You still don’t understand that the more you persecute me, the more my political message is gaining popularity,” he wrote.