Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Quenelle

Footballer Nicolas Anelka is at the centre of a row today for making the gesture shown above after scoring a goal for West Bromwich Albion. It is called "the quenelle", and is best-known as the trademark of a French comedian called Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala. Anelka says that he made the quenelle in tribute to his friendship with Dieudonné. However, there are many in France who consider this gesture to be anti-Semitic, rather than anti-Zionist, as claimed by Dieudonné. The comedian has reportedly been convicted several times for anti-Semitic remarks, and the Independent article I just read portrays him as a man who:

"has transformed himself over the past decade from a talented comedian and campaigner against the far right to a talented comedian and purveyor of anti-Semitic remarks and conspiracy theories."

The rest of the article may be found here.

The French Interior Minister is now considering whether or not to ban this man from performing in public. Meanwhile, vigilante groups of young Jews have been arrested in Lyon for reacting violently to perceived use of the quenelle.

other links connected to this story:

Hope Not Hate - profile of Dieudonné by a blogger who is not sympathetic to his cause

Metro - shows a tweet by Anelka using a photo of Obama doing what Anelka claims is the quenelle

The Guardian suggests there may be a ban on Anelka in response to his quenelle. NB  this article notes that while Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool has also made the gesture, he claims that he was tricked and did not know what it meant!

The Telegraph leads with the French Sports Minister publishing a statement that this gesture was an "incitation to racial hatred and sickening."

Of course there are questions here about the boundaries between free speech and hate speech. My first question, however, is what was Anelka thinking? Surely he knew there would be a response. What, then, was behind his decision to make such a gesture?

(Just saw this by Philippe Auclair in the Mirror - casting much doubt on any claims of innocence by Anelka)

O, and I found the photograph of French soldiers supposedly on anti-terrorist duty & making the quenelle. Look where they appear to be standing. Could this be a genuine photograph?

31/12/13 Update

Dieudonne is reported as praising Anelka via Sky News

Official statement from West Bromwich Albion Football Club noting Anelka's agreement not to perform another quenelle in celebration of a goal for the team.

3/1/14 Postscript

Nothing from the Football Association re a ban ... yet ... we can only hope. Meanwhile, the Times Leader ends with

"Anelka has brought disgrace to himself and his club, which showed itself incapable of understanding the obligations of its players. By its dilatoriness and insouciance, the Football Association has compounded this offence against decency."

if you have a subscription, you can read the whole leader here.

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