Tuesday, December 31, 2013

quenelle

wikipedia | The quenelle (French pronunciation: ​[kə.nɛl]) is a gesture which is performed by pointing one arm diagonally downwards, while touching that arm's shoulder with the opposite hand.[1] French political activist and comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala is credited with creating and popularizing the gesture, which he first used publicly in 2009 while campaigning as a candidate for the 2009 European Parliament elections at the head of an anti-Zionist list.[2] While Dieudonné says the quenelle is "an anti-establishment gesture," it takes the appearance of a Nazi salute in reverse, and critics describe it as an expression of antisemitism. The negative intent of the gesture, they say, is further underlined by Dieudonné's history of anti-Semitic remarks and racial hatred convictions..[3] In France, displaying Nazi symbols is illegal if done to cause offense, and the quenelle is viewed by critics as an underhanded manner of expressing hatred for Jews without inviting legal prosecution.[4]

The location of a number of photographed quenelle salutes in front of prominent Holocaust landmarks and Jewish institutions further suggests the prejudicial nature of the gesture. Individuals have been photographed performing the gesture at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland, and French essayist and film-maker Alain Soral performed a quenelle in front of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. He justified itself in a video by declaring, "You the Zionists who using the Holocaust to terrorize us and to prevent us from criticizing a neo nazi state that is the state of current Israel, this manipulation does not work any more, that's what it means".[5] In September 2013, two French soldiers on duty had their picture taken in front of a Paris synagogue doing a quenelle.[1] A man wearing a shirt featuring a portrait of Yasser Arafat was photographed performing a quenelle in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse, where in March 2012 a rabbi and three children were gunned down.[6][7]

When French footballer Nicolas Anelka performed the quenelle to celebrate scoring a goal on 28 December 2013, the gesture, which was already considered "something of a viral trend" in France, became an international news story. While Anelka said he did a quenelle as a "special dedication" to his friend Dieudonné, French minister for sport Valérie Fourneyron called his actions 'shocking' and 'disgusting', adding: “There’s no place for anti-Semitism on the football field.”[3] In November, a photograph of French footballer Mamadou Sakho performing the quenelle with Dieudonné was discovered. Sakho said he had been tricked into making a quenelle without knowing its meaning, and that the photo had been taken six months earlier.[8]

On 23 December 2013, French President Francois Hollande said, "We will act, with the government led by [Prime Minister] Jean-Marc Ayrault, to shake the tranquility which, under the cover of anonymity, facilitates shameful actions online. But also we will fight against the sarcasm of those who purport to be humorists but are actually professional anti-Semites."[4] In a statement on 27 December 2013, France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he would consider "all legal means" to ban Dieudonné's "public meetings," given that he "addresses in an obvious and insufferable manner the memory of victims of the Shoah."[9]

While Dieudonné said in August 2013 that "the quenelle had taken on a life of its own and had become something he could no longer claim as his exclusively," he has been working on launching a range of quenelle-related merchandise and in October 2013 his wife registered the quenelle as a trademark with the French National Industrial Property Institute.[1]