The ‘WP’ symbol deliberately resembles the ‘okay’ gesture and has been adopted by white supremacists and members of the far-right across the world.
Far-right French politician, Marine Le Pen, has come under fire after she appeared to pose for a photo while making a white-nationalist hand gesture.
The leader of the National Rally, formerly the National Front, said that she was unaware of the gesture’s meaning.
Le Pen was in the Estonian capital Tallinn on Tuesday, meeting members of the country’s far-right Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), as part of negotiations to form a far-right coalition for the upcoming European elections.
She made the gesture with Ruuben Kaalep, an EKRE MP, who shared the image on his Facebook page.
The gesture is formed by joining the tip of the thumb with that of the index finger to spell out ‘WP’ or ‘White Power’.
France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen was snapped in Estonia on Tuesday giving what some say is a "white power" sign and what she said was just the international sign for OK used by sub-aqua divers pic.twitter.com/7dCfmlTdB4— Luke Baker (@BakerLuke) May 15, 2019
White supremacists have adopted the symbol because it resembles the commonly used western gesture for ‘okay’, giving them a level of plausible deniability.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, white supremacists have deliberately played on the similarity with the okay gesture to ‘troll’ their opponents.
Le Pen said that she believed she was making the ‘okay’ symbol and that after finding out the real meaning of the gesture, asked for the picture to be taken down.
The far-right French leader is tipped to do well in the upcoming European elections amid widespread anger at French President Emmanuel Macron.
Opinion polls show Le Pen’s National Rally running neck and neck with Macron’s The Republic On The Move party (LREM) in the run-up to the May 23 poll.
Previously a critic of the EU, Le Pen is now working towards building Europe-wide networks of far-right groups, capitalising on rising anti-immigration and anti-Islam sentiment on the continent.