Alison Chabloz, a performer at the Edinburgh Festival, has been reported to the police by a concerned member of the public, after she tweeted a photo of her performing the neo-Nazi ‘quenelle’ salute outside Edinburgh Castle (see below). In a blog post, she also praised ‘research’ by Robert Faurisson disputing the use of gas chambers by the Nazis and referred readers to Ernst Zündel’s paper entitled “Did six million really die?”
Shocked festival-goers were astounded when Chabloz claimed that the backlash from those offended by her action constitutes a “smear campaign” because of her views regarding Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
The quenelle is an inverted Nazi salute, a gesture involving one outstretched hand pointing to the ground with the other touching the same arm. It is widely accepted as being aimed at Jewish people. The quenelle was made popular by the controversial French performer Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala who said he would like to put a quenelle up the backside of Zionists, and believes Jews control the world to their own advantage. Last year Diedonné was banned by the Home Office from entering Britain and several of his shows have been cancelled in France amid fears that his stereotypical portrayal of Jews and mocking of the Holocaust were a risk to public order.
In 2013, French President François Hollande said of Diedonné “We will fight against the sarcasm of those who purport to be humourists but are actually professional antisemites.” The International League Against Racism and Antisemitism has called the quenelle: “an inverted Nazi salute representing the sodomy of the victims of the Holocaust”.
West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka was banned for five matches and fined £80,000 by the Football Association for his quenelle gesture last year.
Over the weekend, Matisyahu, a Jewish American reggae artist was booted from Spain’s Rototom Sunsplash music festival after refusing to issue a statement endorsing a Palestinian state; There is no reason that a Jewish performer should be forced to make political statements before being permitted to perform at a festival. Last year the Tricycle Theatre in London refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival, and Israeli performers withdrew from The Edinburgh Festival after threats to their safety.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared that the levels of Scottish antisemitism are “unacceptable” as the number of antisemitic attacks in Scotland doubled last year. In May, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities voiced fears that some Scottish Jews were considering leaving the country.
The Edinburgh Festival has told members of the public: “The Fringe Society do not select or programme the Festival Fringe, nor do we curate or censor the behaviour or actions of performers. It is not within our remit or our open access ethos to allow or refuse performers a platform for their work that is within the law.”
The quenelle is a neo-Nazi symbol of Jew-hatred used by antisemites who claim that they oppose ‘Zionists’ but openly espouse Holocaust denial and other antisemitic views. Alison Chabloz routinely ends her tweets with ‘#quenelle’ and this latest photograph of her, along with her defence of papers questioning the scale of the Holocaust, should be of grave concern to any venue hosting her at the Festival and to Nicola Sturgeon who has rightly promised zero tolerance of antisemitism.
When asked for comment, Police Scotland said: “We would urge anyone with concerns about online content to contact Police Scotland on 101 where your report will be treated with the utmost seriousness.”