French Jewish leader does not support ‘quenelle’ soccer star
search

French Jewish leader does not support ‘quenelle’ soccer star

Nicolas Anelka faces a minimum five-game ban for employing the controversial gesture, had hoped Roger Cukierman was backing him

French soccer star Nicolas Anelka performing the quenelle, a Nazi-like salute, after scoring a goal at a match in London, December 28, 2013. (photo credit: Christopher Lee/Getty Images/via JTA)
French soccer star Nicolas Anelka performing the quenelle, a Nazi-like salute, after scoring a goal at a match in London, December 28, 2013. (photo credit: Christopher Lee/Getty Images/via JTA)

LONDON (AP) — West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka has lost the support of the French Jewish community leader he was citing to defend his use of a gesture deemed anti-Semitic.

The former France international was publicly backed Thursday by the French performer who popularized the “quenelle” gesture and has been repeatedly convicted of inciting racial hatred or anti-Semitism.

Anelka insists his use of the gesture, which has been described as an “inverted Nazi salute,” was not anti-Semitic.

But he is facing a minimum five-game ban if an English Football Association panel rules that his goal-celebration gesture was a racially aggravated breach of its rules.

The player responded to this week’s FA charge by highlighting through his Facebook and Twitter accounts how the Jewish organization which represents France’s estimated 500,000 Jews said the gesture was not offensive because it was performed on a football field rather than in front of a Jewish site or Holocaust memorial.

But Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions President Roger Cukierman has backpedalled on his earlier comments, now stressing that the gesture is “an inversed Hitler salute.” Cukierman said he is “troubled” Anelka dedicated his quenelle to French performer Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, “whose own motives are incontestably anti-Semitic.”

CRIF head Roger Cukierman. (photo credit: Erez Lichtfeld/courtesy)
CRIF head Roger Cukierman. (photo credit: Erez Lichtfeld/courtesy)

“It must be noted that the quenelle gesture has spread dangerously among our fellow citizens and especially among young people,” Cukierman said on his organization’s website. “I was disappointed by Anelka’s attitude, whose behavior is the opposite of that which should be shown by a top-class athlete to the youths of our country.”

But Anelka does have the backing of Dieudonne, who has agreed to abandon a controversial show banned in several French cities after angering the government.

“Nicolas Anelka has all my support, that’s evident,” Dieudonne told British broadcaster Sky News. “I consider him a brother in humanity. He’s someone who is very courageous and for whom I have very much respect and admiration.”

Dieudonne has been held by French police for questioning twice in the last two days. A bailiff who delivered documents demanding that Dieudonne pay back taxes said he was shot at with Flash-balls from Dieudonne’s house west of Paris, according to the regional prosecutor’s office. Dieudonne, who has denied wrongdoing, was released both times without charge.

Anelka performed the gesture as he celebrated scoring in West Brom’s 3-3 draw with West Ham in the Premier League on December 28.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments