NBA star Tony Parker has apologized for being photographed making a gesture associated in France with anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers, saying he did not know “that it could be in any way offensive or harmful” and promised never to repeat it again.
As TheBlaze reported earlier Monday, the San Antonio Spurs player, who is French, was criticized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, for making the gesture known as the quenelle, or “reverse Nazi salute.”
Parker has been photographed making the quenelle, as seen in this photo posted on Slate’s French site. Parker posed alongside Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the controversial French comedian credited with inventing the gesture:
“While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it,” Parker said in a statement Monday.
“When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful. Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions,” he said. “Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt."
The quenelle has become notorious in recent months after a spike in Europeans posing while making the gesture at inappropriate locations including the Auschwitz concentration camp and the site of a Palestinian terrorist attack and then posting the photos on social media.
French soccer player Nicolas Anelka was criticized for making the gesture after scoring a goal at a match over the weekend and may now face disciplinary action from British soccer officials.
In an effort to defend his actions, Anelka tweeted a photo of President Barack Obama and singers Jay-Z and Beyonce making what appeared to be the same arm gesture but what was instead a group pantomime of brushing imaginary dirt off their shoulders as a tribute to Jay-Z’s song “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”