PARIS — A French comic whose gesture touched off allegations of anti-Semitism and prompted a government ban on his shows is defiant, saying the “quenelle” has nothing to do with the Nazi salute.
“Of course it’s not an anti-Semitic gesture. I’m going to repeat it 20 times. It’s a gesture of emancipation, of panache,” Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala told The Associated Press on Friday.
Dieudonne, who calls himself anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic is currently facing his eighth trial for inciting hatred against Jews for stating in a live performance that a French Jewish journalist belongs in a gas chamber.
In January France banned his one-man show called “The Wall” in which Dieudonne mimes urinating on Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
The controversial comic was previously convicted for inciting hatred against Jews, with a fine of 20,000 euros or 200 days in prison, according to the BBC. He also owes 65,000 euros in fines for six convictions of hate speech against Jews.
Soccer player Nicolas Anelka faces an English Football Association disciplinary hearing after formally denying a racism charge for celebrating a goal with the gesture. Dieudonne was banned on Monday from entering the United Kingdom in a trip he had planned as a show of support for Anelka.
“It’s a rather modern gesture” that Dieudonne said he invented. “Everyone is appropriating this gesture their own way.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press