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Anelka salute sparks outrage across France

Updated: 2013-12-30 07:48
By Associated Press in London ( China Daily)

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.

 Anelka salute sparks outrage across France

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. Associated Press Photo / Sang Tan

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 anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred on the football field."

Anelka salute sparks outrage across France

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 anti-Semite 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.