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French man sentenced for quenelle at synagogue

42-year-old will pay $1,300 fine, and will be jailed if he makes offensive anti-Semitic gesture again

Illustrative photo of anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne performing the anti-Semitic quenelle gesture (screen capture: YouTube)
Illustrative photo of anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne performing the anti-Semitic quenelle gesture (screen capture: YouTube)

A tribunal fined and handed a suspended sentence to a man who made the quenelle gesture in front of a French synagogue’s Holocaust memorial plaque.

The Correctional Tribunal of Colmar in northeastern France last week sentenced the 42-year-old man, who was not named in media reports, to three months in jail, to become effective if he is convicted of a similar offense. He was also made to pay $1,300, the L’Alsace daily reported.

The defendant posted on social networks a picture of himself posing with his son while making the quenelle in front of a commemorative plaque for Jewish victims of the Holocaust located at the entrance to the synagogue of Colmar.

The quenelle, folding one arm over one’s chest while pointing downward with the other arm, is identified with the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who has several convictions for inciting hatred against Jews.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the quenelle “an anti-Semitic gesture of hate” and Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish communities, said it was an “inverted Nazi salute,” though he added it carried an anti-Semitic message only when performed in a Jewish context.

Dieudonné maintains the quenelle is a gesture of defiance against the system and does not signal anti-Semitism.

Separately, the deputy mayor of Drancy near Paris, Christophe Lagarde, filed a complaint with police against another man who posed with his family while performing the quenelle in front of the Parisian suburb’s Holocaust memorial site, according to a report by the BNVCA watchdog on anti-Semitism.

Several people have been convicted of inciting racial hatred for disseminating pictures of themselves making the quenelle.

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