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French Jews take YouTube to court over ‘year of quenelle’ video

(JTA) — A Jewish student group petitioned a French court to order the removal of a YouTube video in which the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala celebrates the quenelle.

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 Dec. 31 by Dieudonne, who has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews. In the video, Dieudonne declares that 2014 will be “the year of the quenelle.”

The quenelle is the name invented for a gesture Dieudonne devised in which an arm is extended over the chest while pointing downward with the other arm. France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, said in December that the gesture was a “salute of anti-Semitic hatred.” Some practitioners of the salute say it is simply an anti-establishment gesture.

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

Last year, UEJF won a legal battle against Twitter, requiring that the American social networking site divulge details about users who violated French 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.

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