1 of 3

Nicolas Anelka has claimed that France's new Prime Minister was influenced by his Jewish wife to ban a comedian accused of anti-Semitism, who invented an allegedly Nazi-like gesture which was copycatted by the footballer.

Anelka was handed a five-game ban by the FA and left British team West Bromwich Albion after he celebrated a goal with the so-called "quenelle" salute, which was first conceived by his comedian friend, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala in December.

In January the French government moved to prevent Dieudonné's national tour over the alleged anti-Semitic contents of his show.

The ban was strongly supported by the then-interior minister, Manuel Valls, who was promoted to Prime Minister in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this week.

"He's not so bad," Anelka said of Valls in an interview with French newspaper Metro News. "I think he was probably under pressure from his wife in the quenelle affair.

"I hope he will put as much energy into fixing the country as he did in fighting Dieudonné," Anelka said.

Valls's wife, Anne Gravoin, is a celebrated violinist of Jewish origins.

In the interview, Anelka insisted that the quenelle, which was described by Jewish associations as an inverted Nazi salute, is not an anti-Semitic gesture.

"My quenelle was very misunderstood. I have no record of racism or anti-Semitism, there is no evidence to support it, not even a shred of evidence," he said.

Dieudonné, who has six convictions for hate speech, has long claimed that the gesture, as well as his whole comedy, is anti-establishment rather than anti-Jewish.

Many of his fans have however posted photos of themselves online doing the gesture in places related to Judaism or the Holocaust, including the German Nazi Auschwitz extermination camp in present-day Poland, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

"Because some people have performed [the quenelle] in front of a synagogue, then the gesture is suddenly meant to be racist and anti-Semitic in any place and in any situation?" asked Anelka.

"Sorry, I'm not swallowing that. I've tried to swallow it but it won't go down."