Senior Air France union members use ‘quenelle’ salute

Senior Air France union members use ‘quenelle’ salute

In photo from November, high-level employees make quasi-Nazi gesture; airline says it is 'extremely shocked'

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Illustrative photo of an Air France plane (photo credit: CC BY-Andres Rueda/Flickr)
Illustrative photo of an Air France plane (photo credit: CC BY-Andres Rueda/Flickr)

Three senior Air France employees were spotted making the controversial “quenelle” salute at a union rally in support of a Swissport strike, according to the French daily Libération.

In a picture taken on November 8, and publicized by the newspaper Thursday, David Ricatte, secretary and spokesman of CGT-Air France, Pascal Belrose, one of the division secretaries, and Laurent Dahyot, member of the executive board of the union are shown joyfully using the gesture reminiscent of the Nazi salute, popularized by comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.

The airline released a statement condemning the salute, saying the company was “extremely shocked” and will “not hesitate to take appropriate action.”

In a separate statement, Ricatte defended his actions, maintaining that the gesture had no racial or religious connotations, but before it was publicized as a anti-Semitic move in December, was merely a fashionable anti-establishment sign.

However, earlier in January, Ricatte posted on his personal Twitter account a dubbed version of the scene of Adolf Hitler in “Downfall” in which Hitler is a parodied version of Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemning the quenelle.


In December, Valls said that the gesture was a “salute of anti-Semitic hatred.” In an apparent show of support for the comedian, Ricatte touted the resemblance in the clip to the interior minister and concluded with a “Dieudo” hashtag.

Dieudonne originated the gesture, in which an arm is extended over the chest while pointing downward with the other arm.

Dieudonne is now facing an eighth trial for inciting hatred against Jews by suggesting during a show that the French Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen belonged in a gas chamber.

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