UK & World News

  • 30 December 2013, 6:59

Anelka's 'Quenelle' Gesture Praised By Comic

Footballer Nicolas Anelka's controversial goal celebration has been praised by the comedian who popularised the allegedly anti-Semitic gesture.

After scoring the first of two goals for West Brom against West Ham on Saturday, the former France international appeared to perform the "quenelle" salute made famous by French comic Dieudonne.

France's Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron condemned the striker over the straight-armed salute, which Jewish groups have called "a Nazi salute in reverse".

She wrote on her Twitter account: "Anelka's gesture is a shocking provocation, sickening. There's no place for anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred on the football field."

But Dieudonne praised his friend Anelka's actions - saying the quenelle gesture was "not a Nazi sign or anti-Semitic".

He tweeted: "Bravo ?nelka pour sa #quenelle !! Magnifique !! Et merci pour ton soutien !!! (Congratulations to Anelka for his # quenelle ! Magnificent! And thank you for your support!)"

Earlier, Anelka, 34, took to Twitter to defend the celebration, and said it was simply a tribute to Dieudonne.

He wrote: "This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonne."

The Football Association said it will consult leading Jewish groups before deciding what action to take against the striker.

The European Jewish Congress has called for Anelka to face the same punishment that would be handed down for a Nazi salute.

"It is sickening that such a well-known footballer would make such an abusive and hateful gesture in front of tens of thousands of spectators," the group's President Moshe Kantor said.

The footballer's gesture came after France's Interior Ministry said it was looking at legal ways to ban performances by Dieudonne M'bala M'bala - who has been accused of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims and threatening public order.

The stand-up comedian has been fined repeatedly for hate speeches and ran in the 2009 European parliament elections at the head of an "Anti-Zionist List" made-up far-right activists.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said: "Dieudonne M'bala M'bala doesn't seem to recognise any limits any more.

"From one comment to the next, as he has shown in several television shows, he attacks the memory of Holocaust victims in an obvious and unbearable way."

Dieudonne has responded to the criticism from prominent Jewish figures by threatening to sue them for linking his gesture - a downward straight arm touched at the shoulder by the opposite hand - to the Hitler salute.

He named the gesture "la quenelle" - the word for an elongated dumpling - and says it stands for his anti-Zionist and anti-establishment views, not anti-Semitism.

The gesture has gone viral on social media recently, with mostly young fans displaying it at parties and sports events. Some do it while in the audience at live television shows.

Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far-right, told the Journal Du Dimanche Sunday newspaper that the quenelle was for some an "anti-establishment gesture" and for others "an anti-establishment gesture against a Jewish plot."

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