Friday, 24 January 2014

Putting the Boot In

Rod Liddle writing in the Sunday Times puts the put in to Nicolas Anelka and his vile chum Dieudonne - and the good news is that since this article was published Zoopla have followed through with their promise withdraw sponsorship from West Brom and the English FA have charged Anelka with bringing the game into disrepute.

I listened to an interview with Dieudonne on Sky News the other night and came away thoroughly unimpressed by the man's childish dissembling and denials - the authorities in France are not persecuting the comedian but are instead holding him to account for his unacceptable behaviour.

Anelka to Zoopla: a moral A to Z

MUCH though I like West Brom — a smallish club, admirably well run — I hope the property company Zoopla follows through with the threat to remove its sponsorship from the club’s shirts if Nicolas Anelka plays in tomorrow’s evening game against Everton.

So far, with gradually decreasing levels of conviction, the Baggies have stood by Anelka since his interesting neo-Nazi goal celebration, which was performed in homage to a perfectly loathsome French comedian called Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who is a friend of Anelka’s, apparently.

Dieudonne uses the gesture to stir up racial hatred among, largely, the citizens of Francophone African (and therefore largely Muslim) descent. Nothing cheers Dieudonne’s audience more than having a go at the Jews, who are, of course, responsible for all the evil in the world.

Among this semi-literate and pig ignorant section of the French underclass, the vestigial tail of its empire, there are two views about the Holocaust: there are those who believe the Jews made it all up and it didn’t really happen; and there are those who believe it did happen and it was a bloody good thing. I’m not certain which camp Dieudonne falls into. In a sense, it hardly matters. Anti-semitism is an insoluble article of faith for many French Muslims of African descent, much as it is for a perhaps rather smaller proportion (for various reasons) of British Muslims.

It is important to make this point because, even if it is blindingly obvious, it is not often made for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities. This is one of the main problems with the Anelka dispute and perhaps why the Football Association has taken so long to come to a conclusion on what should happen to the player. It is not only whitey who can be racist. Shocking news, huh? Who’d have thunk it.

Zoopla, the club sponsor, has reportedly been “stunned” by West Brom’s indulgence of Anelka, an indulgence perhaps partly occasioned by the fact that since they flogged Shane Long to Hull City they haven’t got many strikers left. Zoopla, a very efficient property website, is co-owned by a Jewish businessman called Alex Chesterman. I think it is reasonable of Mr Chesterman to be disquieted by the fact that £3m of his hard-earned money is being lavished on a team whose star player revels in the extermination of the Jews. Because — again, let’s be clear — Anelka knows exactly what that gesture, the quenelle, stands for. He has not merely attended the repulsive Dieudonne’s performances, in which Jew-baiting and Holocaust denial reportedly take centre stage. He is also a friend of the man. He knows, he knows. How could he not?

Needless to say, other players of Muslim Francophone African descent have also made this gesture, the quenelle — and offered their support to Anelka. The Hull City striker Yannick Sagbo (of Ivorian descent), for example, described Anelka as a “legend” in a typically semi-literate tweet, and offered his support to Dieudonne. Manchester City’s lovable little imp Samir Nasri (of Algerian descent) has been photographed with Dieudonne performing the very same salute. The Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho (of Senegalese descent) has also performed the gesture, although he later resiled from it, claiming that he had been “tricked”.

I labour the point about the backgrounds of these players because it is utterly germane to the case. It seems to me unimaginable that a white English player could make a gesture offering solidarity with a Holocaust-denying, virulent anti-semite and remain unscathed by the authorities, even if the gesture was made in a private photograph (as was the case with Nasri and Sakho).

If he had done the same thing on the pitch he would be out of the game for half a season immediately and sent on awareness courses for all of eternity. But the rules are less rigidly applied for the likes of Anelka and Nasri; there is the vague suspicion that liking Dieudonne is simply part of their culture and one shouldn’t get too worked up about it. Well, sadly, it is perhaps part of their culture, and one should get well and truly worked up about it. Reflexive or ingrained hatred of the Jews is behind a lot of the trouble in the world today and we have seen, in the past, where it can lead.

I suppose West Brom will argue that they are simply abiding by the wishes of the FA and that it would be precipitous to take action before its verdict is finally dragged out. A man is innocent until proven guilty, etc.

But that surely does not apply in this case; there is no doubting that Anelka made the gesture and he has confirmed that it was in support of his “friend” Dieudonne. That’s enough, isn’t it, for West Brom to have acted with rather more alacrity than the FA is capable of, and banned Anelka while his official punishment was being considered.

But one thing we have to make clear: any player who name-checks Dieudonne and performs that salute cannot be in any doubt what it means. When the excuses pour out afterwards — some of my best friends are Jews, etc — they should be treated with contempt.

Fascist Symbols (22 January 2014)

Some people my wonder why it's important to challenge the behaviour of people who seem to be reasonably normal, paid-up members of the human race - like the football player Nicolas Anelka - just because they act like fools from time-to-time.

Well the answer lies in this incredible report from Italy (by the BBC) which tells the story of an Italian politician, a black woman named Cecile Kyenge, who has faced an ugly campaign of racial abuse from people whom I would describe as potential fascists in the making.

Cecile Kyenge would not face this level of abuse in the UK or in just about any other European country, that I can think of at any rate.

But there is a particular problem in Italy where the use of fascist symbols at football matches has not been taken seriously, or seriously enough at least, as a sign of worse to come if the  people responsible are not confronted and challenged about their behaviour. 
Italy's Cecile Kyenge calls for action on rising racism

Cecile Kyenge has faced a torrent of abuse since her appointment in April

Italy's only black cabinet minister has called for more support as she endures relentless non-violent racist attacks.

Cecile Kyenge is in charge of efforts to integrate immigrant communities into wider Italian society and is frequently targeted by right-wing opponents.

Ms Kyenge said Italy's institutions and political establishment must do more.

"Politics must stand up as one and condemn racism lest it become a dangerous weapon that can kill democracy," the Congolese-born MP said.

Ms Kyenge has faced a torrent of abuse since her appointment in April from the right-wing Northern League party and its supporters.

The League's newspaper, La Padania, has just begun publishing her daily itinerary - presumably so that the hecklers will always know where to find the minister, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome.
Last year, one of its most senior figures likened her to an orangutan. Another accused Ms Kyenge of wanting to impose "tribal traditions" on Italy.

One of the League's councillors even called for the minister to be raped.

Ms Kyenge has been heckled, and had bananas thrown at her during political rallies.

'Better than this'

Ms Kyenge has now called for action.

"Our constitution is a strong tool to fight racism, but it's never used.

"The country must react in response to these acts, which must be recognised for what they are, that is, acts of racism and discrimination," Ansa news agency quoted Ms Kyenge as saying.

In a newspaper interview, Ms Kyenge said that, as a black woman, who had studied and become a minister, she had challenged the prejudices of the most intolerant people.

But she made clear that she would continue to do her job. If she backed down she would hand victory to her opponents.

Members of Ms Kyenge's Democratic Party and other centre-left politicians have called for the League's newspaper feature "Here's Cecile Kyenge" to be pulled, describing it as "tantamount to intimidation".

La Padania's editor said the information was in the public domain anyway.

In a separate development, police confirmed that a suspicious powder mailed to Ms Kyenge on Wednesday was baking soda.

The package was intercepted at a mail-processing centre.

Evil Intent (12 January 2014)

The row over the French comedian, Dieudonne, continues  to gather pace as French authorities ban the controversial performer from making public appearances and cashing in on his new found notoriety. 

Some people, including French footballer Nicolas Anelka, seem to swallow the nonsense that the 'quenelle' is not an offensive, anti-Semitic gesture - in which case why are the vile assholes pictured above going out of their way to mimic Dieudonne outside of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial?

Now even a dumb ass like Dieudonne can't laugh or joke his way out of this one - he is clearly pandering to racist, anti-Jewish sentiments and he should not be allowed to get away with pretending otherwise.

So, I take my hat off to the French authorities for taking the issue so seriously - and refusing to accepts this idiot's pathetic excuses for his behaviour. 

Symbols of Hate (31 December 2013

Nicolas Anelka is a well travelled, highly paid, professional footballer and a recent convert to Islam apparently, so he has no excuses for making offensive anti-Semitic gestures.

Yet in a televised football match the other day Anelka celebrated his team (West Brom) scoring a goal by making a salute known in France as a 'quenelle' - its inventor being a controversial French comedian called Dieudonne who has been fined six times for insulting behaviour towards Jews. 

Despite the fact that more than 70,000 French Jews died during the Second World War and many more in the Nazi death camps, Dieudonne seems to think it's funny to describe the remembrance of Holocaust victims as 'memorial pornography' - an act of hateful stupidity for which he was fined 6,000 Euros in 2008.

Maybe the French authorities should threaten to lock him up and take away his liberty for a while if he continues to behave in this way and while Dieudonne claims that his gesture is anti-establishment not anti-Semitic - it's hard to see how this less well known Nazi salute can be interpreted any other way.

Presumably the French authorities agree otherwise he would not have been fined on so many occasions, but in any event Nicolas Anelka was dumb enough to follow Dieudonne's example - influenced by the fact that he calls the comedian a friend.     

West Bromwich Albion's striker Nicolas Anelka - photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images

Anelka's club, West Brom, failed to condemn their player's behaviour but the French minister for sport, Valerie Fourneyron, wasted no time in putting the boot in describing Anelka's behavious as "disgusting" and tweeting the following comment on Twitter:   

"Anelka's gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting. There's no place for antisemitism and incitement to hatred on the football field."
Dieudonne making his 'quenelle' salute.

Unsurprisingly, Jewish groups have made their views known as well with Dr Moshe Kantor of the European Jewish Congress saying that it was "sickening that such a well-known footballer would make such an abusive and hateful gesture in front of tens of thousands of spectators".

"This salute is merely a lesser-known Nazi salute and we expect the same kind of punishment to be handed down by the authorities as if Anelka had made the infamous outstretched arm salute.This salute was created by a well-known extreme antisemite who has displayed his hatred of Jews, mocked the Holocaust and Jewish suffering."

Now I am not a religious person, but presumably Nicolas Anelka is - if the footballer's recent conversion to Islam is anything to go by and perhaps his chum Dieudonne as well.  

Yet I can imagine the violent reaction that would take place in parts of the the Muslim world - if a similar, calculated insult had been directed towards Islam.