An open letter to West Brom caretaker manager Keith Downing

This is a guest post by Stephen Hoffman

Dear Mr Downing,

I was absolutely disgusted to read you have defended the clearly antisemitic gesture “la quenelle”, made by Nicolas Anelka, by saying Anelka’s gesture couldn’t be antisemitic because he was making the gesture on behalf of a comedian friend. The comedian in question is a person with a vile antisemitic history and links with the National Front and Islamist Groups.  His name, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.

As you clearly seem to be unaware of Dieudonné’s dubious history I feel it is my duty to educate you. Dieudonné is known to have links to the French Front National (National Front). The National Front is a far right fascist organisation, whose most well known past leader, Jean Marie Le Pen, denied the Holocaust, the Holocaust which killed 6 million Jews.  You can tell the high class company Dieudonné keeps by the fact that Le Pen is godfather to one of his children. Apparently this escaped Anelka’s attention when he supported the comedian through an antisemitic gesture.  At best this makes him naive, at worst he is ignorant about antisemitism and doesn’t take it seriously. Considering there is a picture of Anelka making the gesture with the comedian before I would suggest the latter is more likely .

Dieudonné is also known to have defended notorious Islamic extremists, including former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Islamic extremists support the persecution and murder of moderate Muslims, Christians, homosexuals, women and Jews. If you still think after this Anelka was making a heartfelt gesture to some innocent friend you are very much mistaken.

It’s not surprising considering this that one Belfast Telegraph journalist who watched a show of Dieudonné’s concluded that he is obsessed with Jews in a sinister way . Unsurprisingly, he has been convicted of racial hatred by French Court. Furthermore, he made the antisemitic remark to his Jewish critics that they were “slave traders, who had converted to banking” and called Judaism a scam.  I’m surprised, considering that he is a good friend, Anelka has never spoken out against this blatant antisemitism and thinks it’s OK to make a gesture laced with links to antisemitism.

In your comments defending Anelka, you gave the idea that the gesture made by Anelka’s friend was antisemitic short shrift. You have no evidence to back this ridiculous assertion.  The worst part of your remarks was saying the gesture couldn’t be antisemitic, because he was making it for a longstanding friend. If I made a racist gesture on behalf of a racist friend in a public environment I would quite rightly be accused of racism and no doubt be disciplined in some way.  Anelka should face the same fate.

You are a representative for a club with a proud tradition of confronting prejudice in all its forms in West Brom. You tarnish it by not standing up to antisemitism and I believe many fans will take issue with what you have said. I know you are proud to be caretaker manager of West Brom, so I’m sure you did not want to do anything which harms the club’s reputation, but in defending Anelka’s disgraceful gesture you have through turning a blind eye to antisemitism.

I hope you take on board what I have written, withdraw your previous statement, call for disciplinary action against Nicolas Anelka by the FA, internally discipline him and apologise for the offence your previous comments made to the Jewish community. If you do not I can only assume you do not take antisemitism seriously, a disgusting prejudice, which throughout history has led to the murder of millions of Jews.

Update: The final sentence of the penultimate paragraph has been reworded.