French Jews Take YouTube to Court Over 'Quenelle' Video

Jewish students want video of anti-Semitic comedian celebrating the quasi-Nazi salute he invented removed from the site.

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A Jewish student union petitioned a French court to order the removal of a YouTube video in which an anti-Semitic comedian celebrates the quasi-Nazi salute he invented.

The petition filed this week with the Paris Court of Grands Instances by the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, concerns a video posted December 31 by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a stand-up artist with seven convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, in which he declares that 2014 will be “the year of the quenelle.”

The quenelle is the name Dieudonne invented for folding an arm over one’s chest while pointing downward with the other arm. France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, said on Dec. 31 that the gesture was an “salute of anti-Semitic hatred.” Some practitioners of the salute say its meaning is simply anti-establishment.

A preliminary ruling on the union’s petition against YouTube is scheduled to be handed down on February 12, the French Liberation daily reported Wednesday. More than 3.5 million viewers have played the video, the paper wrote.

Last year, UEJF won a legal battle against Twitter, requiring that the American social network divulge details about users who violated France’s laws against hate speech with anti-Semitic statements.

Earlier this week, the Jewish community of Annecy in eastern France filed a complaint with police against unidentified individuals who painted a swastika on a memorial plaque commemorating Jewish children who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Members of the Jewish community found the graffiti at the entrance to the Quai Jules Philippe School in the town.

Youths make the 'quenelle' outside a French concert hall, widely seen as an anti-Semitic gesture.Credit: Reuters

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