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French comedian says his gesture is not anti-semitic or inspired by Nazis

m'bala ap.jpg

Jan. 11, 2014. French comic Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala speaks to the media during a press conference in a theater in Paris. The French comic whose gesture touched off allegations of anti-Semitism and prompted a government ban on his shows is defiant, saying the quenelle has nothing to do with the Nazi salute.Associated Press

A French comic whose gesture touched off allegations of anti-Semitism and prompted a government ban on his shows is defiant, saying the "quenelle" has nothing to do with the Nazi salute.

"Of course it's not an anti-Semitic gesture. I'm going to repeat it 20 times. It's a gesture of emancipation, of panache," Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala told The Associated Press on Friday.

(The gesture is performed by pointing one arm diagonally downwards with the palm down while touching the shoulder with the other hand).

Soccer player Nicolas Anelka faces an English Football Association disciplinary hearing after formally denying a racism charge for celebrating a goal with the gesture. Dieudonne was banned on Monday from entering the United Kingdom in a trip he had planned as a show of support for Anelka.

"It's a rather modern gesture" that Dieudonne said he invented. "Everyone is appropriating this gesture their own way."

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