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Amid a public debate in France over an allegedly anti-Semitic gesture, French media have reproduced a photo of a man performing it outside the Toulouse school where four Jews were murdered.
The photo, which was published Monday on the website of the France 3 broadcaster, shows a man wearing a shirt featuring a portrait of Yasser Arafat in front of the Ohr Torah school.
The man, whose face was digitally obscured, is holding his left palm outstretched over his right shoulder – a gesture known as quenelle, which was invented by the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’balla M’balla.
Jewish groups say that Dieudonne, who has multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, designed the quenelle to emulate the Nazi salute without violating France’s laws against displaying Nazi symbols to cause offense.
The picture taken outside Ohr Torah is not dated but was taken after the Muslim extremist Mohammed Merah last year killed three children and a rabbi. The institution changed its name since from Otzar HaTorah.
The photo was published a day after photos surfaced of NBA star Tony Parker, who was born in Belgium and is French by nationality, performing the salute earlier this year standing next to Dieudonne backstage at a theater in France. Photos of the salute were published in the French media.
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center reportedly has called on Parker, who plays point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, to apologize for performing the salute.
“As a leading sports figure on both sides of the Atlantic, Parker has a special moral obligation to disassociate himself from a gesture that the government of France has identified as anti-Semitic,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center.
Reports of the Parker salute came a day after soccer player Nicolas Anelka, a French national playing for Britain’s West Bromwich Albion soccer team, was roundly condemned for performing the salute during a match on Saturday.
Anelka defended himself on Sunday, saying that he saw a photo of President Obama performing the quenelle with rapper Jay Z and singer Beyonce. They were, in fact, performing a hip hop move in which the hand brushes off the shoulder.
Britain’s Football Association has launched an investigation of the Anelka incident.
France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, declared that his ministry would look into banning all public performances by Dieudonne, the inventor of the quenelle.
Dieudonne has been convicted several times for inciting racial hatred against Jews in films, shows and articles.
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