Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Quenelle and Berets

The quenelle is a gesture which is performed by pointing one arm diagonally downwards palm down, while touching the shoulder with the opposite hand.
French political activist and comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala is credited with creating and popularizing the gesture, which he first used in 2005 in his sketch entitled "1905" about French secularism and has used since in a wide variety of contexts.
Dieudonné used the gesture in various contexts, including for his 2009 European election campaign poster for the "anti-Zionist party": he stated that his intention was "to put a quenelle into Zionism's butt".
Dieudonné described it as "a kind of up yours gesture to the establishment with an in the ass dimension. But it's a quenelle, so it's a bit softer, less violent". However, Jewish leaders, antiracism groups and public officials have interpreted it as an "inverted Nazi salute" and as an expression of antisemitism.
Chasseurs Alpins at the synagogue Beth David in Paris, which they were meant to protect; a gesture for which they were punished.
Dieudonné describes himself as an anti-Zionist, not an antisemite, and declared that he will sue a series of journalists and personalities who compared the quenelle to a Nazi salute, notably Alain Jakubowicz, president of the LICRA, who stated that the quenelle was "a reverse Nazi salute symbolizing the sodomy of the victims of the Shoah". Officially, French authorities have said the gesture is too vague to take any action against Dieudonné. However, an official January 2014 circular issued by the Interior Ministry specifically linked the quenelle gesture to antisemitism and extremism.
Beaujolais producers have distanced themselves from a local wine showing the controversial 'quenelle' sign on its label.

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