D ieudonné, in a video posted on YouTube, and widely seen before being removed, expressed a longing to bring back the gas chambers in which the Nazis gassed the Jews. Everything he posts goes viral.
On Saturday December 28th 2013, a French Muslim soccer player, Nicolas Anelka (aka: Abdul-Salam Bilal), scored a goal for his club, West Bromwich Albion, in front of thousands of cheering fans and millions more around the world watching on television. He showed no joy. He did not even smile. He extended one hand straight down and touched the other to his shoulder. Most of those who saw did not understand. For many others, the meaning was clear: he was performing a “quenelle”, the reverse Nazi-style salute invented by the French “comedian” Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala. For the last couple of years, “quenelles” have become a trend in France and throughout Europe.
Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala demonstrates the “quenelle” salute with NBA player Tony Parker. (Image source: Twitter)
Pictures of people performing “quenelles” also multiplied: “quenelles” in front of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin; on the train tracks leading to the Auschwitz death camp; beside a picture of Anne Frank in Amsterdam; and in the courtyard of the school where three Jewish children and a teacher were murdered by Mohamed Merah in Toulouse.
The photos also show “quenelles” by famous athletes: soccer players, such as Nicolas Anelka; basketball players such as Tony Parker (he recently apologized, saying he did not know the meaning of the gesture), and world judo champion, Teddy Riner.
It has long been common knowledge in France that Dieudonné is an anti-Semite and that “quenelles” were performed by countless people. It is also common knowledge that Dieudonné’s shows were explicitly anti-Semitic and attracted large crowds, but until recently, nobody paid attention.
For many, however, Nicolas Anelka’s “quenelle” during the soccer match went a step too far, and occurred at the wrong moment: only one week after Dieudonné himself, for many, went a step too far. In a video posted on YouTube, and widely seen before being removed, he expressed a longing to bring back the gas chambers in which which the Nazis gassed the Jews. He also added an ambiguous sentence that unambiguously meant it was “too bad” that a Jewish journalist, Patrick Cohen, could not be gassed. A few hours after the video was posted, a hacker tracked down some of those who posted their own “quenelles” pictures on Dieudonné’s website and made their addresses public.
Immediately after Anelka’s “quenelle”, Valérie Fourneyron, French Sports Minister, called Anelka’s gesture “a disgusting provocation” and an “incitement to hatred.” A few hours after that, Manuel Valls, French Minister of the Interior, spoke of “the need to ban” Dieudonné’s public appearances — the first time since World War II that the French government and France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, have ordered a ban to go into effect.
Protests are being organized by Jewish movements in front of the Paris theater where Dieudonné’s performances are still scheduled, and the famous Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have said they will participate.
All the fuss, however will be almost certainly useless.