French Soccer Star Anelka Under Fire for 'Quenelle' Gesture

French Soccer Star Anelka Under Fire for 'Quenelle' Gesture

French soccer player Nicolas Anelka is under fire for making a controversial “Quenelle” gesture, which the French government deems to be “anti-Semitic,” in a Premier League game in England after he scored a goal on Saturday. 

Anelka, who is a Frenchman, made what is known as the “Quenelle” after his first goal in Saturday’s game against West Ham in what he said was a tribute to his friend Dieudonne.

The “Quenelle” gesture–a “right arm extended towards the ground, palm opened and the other one bent across his chest touching his right upper arm”–has been labelled as a “reversed Nazi salute and made famous a few years ago by” Dieudonné, “a French comedian from African background” who is under fire in France for his repeated use of the symbol.

Valérie Fourneyron, the Sports minister of France, said it was an “incitation to racial hatred and sickening.”

Annelka, who had played for Arsenal, is a converted Muslim. He has been photographed with Dieudonne making the “Quenelle” gesture in the past. He currently plays for West Bromwich Albion.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center also considers the gesture to be anti-Semitic and has called on other professional athletes–like Spurs superstar Tony Parker–to apologize for his past use of the symbol.