French comic at centre of Nicolas Anelka ‘Nazi’ storm heads for the UK to back him

The Daily Mail - 26 January 2014

The comedian at the centre of the ‘Nazi’ storm surrounding footballer Nicolas Anelka is coming to Britain to support the player, who faces being banned for making an alleged anti-Semitic gesture.

French performer Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, 47, said he was ‘looking forward to coming to London as soon as possible’ and claimed Anelka was being ‘persecuted, simply for being my friend’.

Dieudonne, who created the controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture, said his UK visit will include a show designed to ‘prove to everybody that Nicolas is by no means anti-Jewish, or racist’.

French controversial humorist Dieudonne Mbala performing the quenelle . He is coming to London in order to show support to Anelka

He plans to hold a press conference in London at which he will ‘offer evidence’ helping Anelka.

Anelka, 34, who is also French and plays for West Bromwich Albion, has been widely criticised  for performing Dieudonne’s trademark downward-arm gesture after scoring a goal.

West Bromwich Albion’s French striker Nicolas Anelka makes the gesture

It has caused outrage among those who see it as a covert Nazi salute. Dieudonne’s defenders say it is a comic gesture aimed at mocking those in authority.

Anelka, who has also played for Chelsea and Arsenal, has been charged by the Football Association with making a gesture which is considered abusive or indecent – an offence that carries a minimum five-game ban.

He has denied the charge and being anti-Semitic.

Dieudonne said: ‘Nicolas has my full backing – I am coming to Britain to support him. There is no hint of anti-Semitism or racism in the gesture, or in my act.

‘We are brothers in humanity. The quenelle is our way of expressing anger against the establishment, and especially the establishment which allowed slavery to flourish.’

Anelka’s case has received the qualified backing of Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions and vice-president of the World Jewish Congress.

While ‘disappointed’ by Anelka’s celebration, Mr Cukierman said: ‘In a place that has no significance for Jews, it is merely an anti-establishment gesture which I feel does not warrant any harsh sanction.’

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