French Police Hunt Man for Anti-Semitic 'Quenelle' Hate Spree

Performed 'Nazi' Gesture at Spots Linked to Jewish Killings

Sign of Hate: Police are hunting for this man who performed the controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture in front of the Jewish school in Toulouse where several children were killed in a 2012 rampage.
Sign of Hate: Police are hunting for this man who performed the controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture in front of the Jewish school in Toulouse where several children were killed in a 2012 rampage.

By JTA

Published January 02, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

French police are searching for a man who performed an anti-Semitic gesture at three locales connected to the murder of Jews.

The search for the man, whose identity is not yet known, began last week after a photo of him surfaced online in which he performed the quenelle, a quasi-Nazi salute, in front of the Toulouse school where the Muslim extremist Mohammed Merah murdered four Jews in 2012.

The same man was seen performing the quenelle outside the former residence of Merah, who was killed during a shootout with French police, according to research done by the French Jewish news site JSSnews.com. Additionally, he posed while performing the quenelle near a monument commemorating the Holocaust in Paris. Police sources in Toulouse told French media the man is wanted for questioning.

The quenelle is the name given to the gesture of placing one’s left palm on one’s right shoulder by its inventor, he comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has been convicted several times for inciting hatred against Jews and who is facing an eighth trial for suggesting a French Jewish journalist belonged in a gas chamber.

It is widely seen as echoing the Nazi salute but is too vague to violate France’s laws against displaying Nazi symbols. In recent months, the quenelle’s popularity has soared in France, with several celebrities performing it on national media.

On Tuesday, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls – who last week said he would seek a ban on public performances by Dieudonne — indicated for the first time he may also seek a ban on the gesture, which he said is a form of incitement to hatred despite claims that it is merely anti-establishment rather than anti-Semitic.

“This gesture is a gesture of hatred, it’s an anti-Semitic gesture and all those who perform it should know – they can’t deny knowledge – that they are performing an anti-Semitic gesture, an inverted Nazi gesture,” Valls said during a press conference in Paris.

Meyer Habib, a French Jewish lawmaker, on Monday wrote on Twitter that he will submit a bill which proposes to ban the gesture.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.