French comedian Dieudonné described himself as a 'Charlie Coulibaly' Reuters

Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation into controversial anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné, after he appeared to praise the gunman who killed a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers during France's three days of terror last week.

The probe comes after the 48-year-old comic, who invented the infamous Nazi-like Quenelle gesture, published a statement on his Facebook page mocking the solidarity march held in the French capital in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks that shocked the world.

Dieudonné wrote that after attending the rally, which he described as "a magic moment equal to the Big Bang that created the universe, or to a lesser (more local) extent to the coronation of Vercingetorix," he felt like "Charlie Coulibaly", a reference to satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo where staff were murdered and Islamist gunman Amedy Coulibaly.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the comment was "shameful", while prosecutors in Paris announced they were investigating Dieudonné on charges of justifying terrorism.

The comedian, whose full name is Dieudonné M'Bala M'bala, attempted to defend himself in a letter to Cazeneuve that he posted online.

He said he used the juxtaposition between the magazine and the gunman because he felt authorities had been mounting a series of cases against him as if he were a terrorist, when in fact he was a satirist and, as such, should be granted freedom of speech.

During his two-decade-long stage career Dieudonné has collected six convictions for hate speech and €65,000 (£53,000) in related fines.

Last year the government moved to block his national tour over the alleged anti-Semitic contents of his show.

"Over the last year I have been treated as the public enemy number one, when really I'm just trying to make [people] laugh," he wrote. "I am considered as an Amedy Coulibaly when I am not different from Charlie."

Coulibaly killed a policewoman in Paris' Montrouge district and then four Jewish shoppers in a Hyper Cacher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes last week.

His actions were allegedly coordinated with those of Said and Cherif Kouachi, two terrorists who stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people.

The attackers were shot dead by police at the end of two twin hostage standoffs on Friday (9 January).