Anelka salute sparks out­rage across France

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Lon­don

West Bromwich Al­bion striker Ni­co­las Anelka was crit­i­cized by a French gov­ern­ment min­is­ter and Jewish groups across France on Satur­day for cel­e­brat­ing a goal in the English Pre­mier League with a ges­ture viewed in France as be­ing anti-Semitic.

Af­ter scor­ing the first of his two goals in a 3-3 draw at West Ham on Satur­day, Anelka per­formed a salute used by French co­me­dian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala that is widely known as la quenelle.

It in­volves point­ing one straight­ened arm down­ward while touch­ing that arm’s shoul­der with the op­po­site hand, and is seen by many as a Nazi salute in re­verse.

West Brom coach Keith Down­ing said the for­mer France in­ter­na­tional was “to­tally sur­prised” by the re­ac­tion to the ges­ture.

“It is ded­i­cated to a French co­me­dian he knows very, very well,” Down­ing said of Anelka’s celebration.

“He uses it in his act and I think spec­u­la­tion (that it is anti-Semitic) can be stopped now; it is ab­so­lute rub­bish re­ally. He is to­tally un­aware of what the prob­lems were or the spec­u­la­tion that has been thrown around.”

How­ever, Valerie Four­ney­ron, France’s sports min­is­ter, said on Twit­ter: “Anelka’s ges­ture is a shock­ing, dis­gust­ing provocation. No place for an­ti­Semitism and in­cite­ment to ha­tred on the foot­ball field.”

He uses it in his act and I think spec­u­la­tion that it is anti-Semitic can be stopped now; it is ab­so­lute rub­bish, re­ally.” KEITH DOWN­ING WEST BROM COACH ON STRIKER NI­CO­LAS ANELKA’S GOAL SALUTE

Dr Moshe Kan­tor, pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Jewish Congress, said it was “sick­en­ing that such a well-known foot­baller would make such an abu­sive and hate­ful ges­ture in front of tens of thou­sands of spec­ta­tors”.

“This salute is merely a lesser-known Nazi salute and we ex­pect the same kind of pun­ish­ment to be handed down by the au­thor­i­ties as if Anelka had made the in­fa­mous out­stretched arm salute.

This salute was cre­ated by a well- known ex­treme an­ti­Semite who has dis­played his ha­tred of Jews, mocked the Holo­caust and Jewish suf­fer­ing.”

Jewish groups have com­plained to French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande about Dieudonne’s trade­mark ges­ture, which they have linked to anti-Semitic in­ci­dents.

The French gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing ways to ban per­for­mances by the co­me­dian.

The salute has been de­fended as an anti- es­tab­lish­ment ges­ture.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHOTO/SANG TAN

West Ham United’s Modibo Maiga, left, goes up for a header against West Bromwich Al­bion’s Gareth McAu­ley dur­ing their 3-3 English Pre­mier League draw in Lon­don on Satur­day.

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