Plat Du Jour at Famous Paris Restaurant: Anti-Semitism

A photo of employees of Le Train Bleu performing the ‘quenelle’ gesture is stirring emotions in France ■ Owners promise to suspend everyone involved and to investigate the incident

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Restaurant employees perform the 'quenelle' gesture.
Restaurant employees perform the 'quenelle' gesture.Credit: Twitter
Shlomo Papirblat
Shlomo Papirblat

The famous Parisian restaurant, Le Train Bleu, located in the hall of Paris's Gare de Lyon railway station, has come under fire in recent days for anti-Semitism, following the publication of a photograph of the restaurant's staff engaged in an anti-Semitic salute.

Last weekend, a photograph – nobody knows who took the photograph or when – was posted on social media and quickly went viral, usually accompanied by agitation. In the photograph, a dozen of the restaurant’s employees stand in a semicircle, against the backdrop of the restaurant’s main dining room, and perform France’s infamous “quenelle” salute.

The “quenelle” - described as an upside-down Nazi salute - was reportedly invented by controversial, anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, in an attempt to circumvent the legal prohibition against Nazi symbols. It came to international prominence in 2013 and has become a popular form of expression among anti-Semites.

The present owners urgently convened their legal advisers and public relations agents to deal the scandal.

Representatives of the owner of the restaurant, the French subsidiary of the British SSP Group, a leading operator of restaurants in train stations and airports worldwide, hastened to address the issue and react. Within 24 hours after the photograph was posted, the company issued a press release condemning the incident.

“We learned about the existence of this photograph with shock and horror... An official complaint has been submitted on the matter and while the investigation is taking place we will make sure to suspend everyone who appears in the photo and is still employed by the restaurant,” the statement said.

“When the time comes we will impose serious sanctions against them, which will serve as an example to everyone," it continued.

A spokesman for the company added: “These people who performed the inverted Nazi salute, which has become a sign of identification — whose severity we are not ignoring — with anti-Semitism at its worst, seriously undermine the values of our company, which reject any form of hatred, racism and discrimination."

Le Train Bleu was established in 1901, originally built as part of the Exposition Universelle. Over the years, it has been widely renowned for its classic French cuisine and impressive décor.

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