A French court handed a 28-year-old Moroccan native a fine of € 3,000 (US$ 4,100) for performing the controversial quenelle gesture in front of a synagogue. The tribunal in the southwestern city of Bordeaux last Wednesday convicted the man of incitement to racial hatred.
The man, who was not named in media reports on the sentencing, was sued by the Jewish community of Bordeaux and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) after posting photos of himself performing the quenelle in front of the city’s Grand Synagogue earlier this year.
LICRA said the sentence was the first criminal conviction in connection with a quenelle, a quasi-Nazi gesture that was invented and popularized by the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, whose anti-Jewish slurs have led to seven convictions for inciting racial hatred. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called the quenelle “an anti-Semitic gesture of hate".
The defendant said he was not an anti-Semite. “On my Facebook account I try not to confuse anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism,” he reportedly said during his trial. However, his Facebook account also features a photo of a man performing a quenelle in front of a portrait of Adolf Hitler with the caption: “I committed suicide but nowadays I’d get the Nobel Peace Prize.”