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The 'Quenelle' Salute Is Not Anti-Authority, It's Anti-Semitic

29/01/2014 11:03 GMT | Updated 30/03/2014 10:59 BST

If you believe Nicolas Anelka, his use of the 'quenelle' was a conscious and deliberate "up yours" to the French establishment in support of friend Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala. But, for many in this country, the 'quenelle' was almost unheard of, and many still argue that it is an apolitical rejection of the state and Zionism. However, it is a ghastly reminder of modern anti-Semitism.

For his adoring fans, the "Dieudonnosphere" allows them to upload photos of their 'quenelles,' which others can score out of five. This popularity contest is a truly global phenomenon as we find examples from Naples, Paris, Sao Paulo, New York, Istanbul, Sydney and other French cities.

Yet, for many in the online "Dieudonnosphere" the 'quenelle' is an expression of anti-Semitism as the most popular image is of two French soldiers performing the salute outside a synagogue. Some take their anti-Semitism further by openly Nazi saluting at live performances.

Places of remembrance are used as props for derision as the 'quenelle' circumvents the illegality of the Sieg Heil. Such acts are as cowardly as they are offensive.

Dieudonné shares this derision, believing that the Holocaust has preferential treatment above other injustices like slavery.

In his mind, the Holocaust is a bigger religion in France than Christianity. In an interview with Iranian Press TV, in 2010, Dieudonné stated:

"Zionism is dividing humanity. It is trying to rule by making us fight one another. They have organised all the wars and all the disorders on this planet. They were involved in the slave trade. We should know that 90 per cent of the ships that relocated the Africans to the West Indies belonged to Jews and the majority of slave traders were Jews. Obviously, today, Jews are not responsible for what happened but this is the reality and something we are not allowed to talk about."

Replace 'they' with 'Jews' and it becomes an overt regurgitation of the one of the oldest anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

To mock this 'favouritism' of Jewish suffering, Dieudonné took a popular children's song and inserted the words Shoah (Holocaust) and ananas (French for pineapple). This theme tune is a wink and nod to his supporters that mocking the Holocaust will help free France from the grip of the 'Jewish and Zionist lobbies' whilst destroying the Jewish collective memory.

There other examples of his anti-Semitism:

In 2003, Dieudonné appeared on a French comedy show dressed as a 'kamikaze rabbi' and performed a Nazi salute while shouting, "Israeheil." Three years later, he shared a stage with Robert Faurisson, a French historian and Holocaust denier.

In that same year, Dieudonné attended the far-right Front National's (FN) Red-White-Blue festival. Their patriarch, Jean-Marie Le Pen (who described the Holocaust as a "detail in the history of the Second World War") is godfather to one Dieudonné's children.

But this anti-Semitism does not exist in a vacuum, it is a miasma that infects much of France, and by extension, a great deal of Europe. A recent anti-Hollande protest in Paris had pockets of far-right supporters shouting: "Jew, France is not yours." Some carried pineapples and sang Dieudonné's 'Holocaust pineapples.' Others openly displayed neo-Nazi flags and shouted: "France for the French! Jews! Zionists out of France."

Nationalism tends to flip towards racism and France is a hot bed of tension. Islamophobia, anti-Roma, and anti-black racism remain equally popular. All of which will only continue to grow with economic downturn and chronic unemployment.

Ultimately, the 'quenelle' is not just an "anti-establishment" gesture when some of his supporters believe 'Jews' control that establishment. Dieudonné offers a toxic solution to various political frustrations: anti-Semitism masked behind anti-Zionism.

Thanks to Nicolas Anelka, the 'quenelle' might now become an equally British problem.