San Antonio, TX, United States (4E Sports) – San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has apologized for his anti-Semitic gesture in a published photograph that was taken several years ago.
Photos of Parker doing the “quenelle” — which has become a symbol of anti-Semitism in France — together with French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala were published by several media outlets in that country.
The quenelle, which is performed by holding one arm straight by one’s side while touching that arm’s shoulder with the opposite hand, has been called a reverse Nazi salute.
Aside from Parker, a similar photo of Spurs teammate Boris Diaw with the comedian was also published.
“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.
“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,” Parker said.
Since he has been made aware of the seriousness of the gesture, Parker assured that he will not repeat it again.
“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,” he added.
The NBA has yet to officially comment on the matter. According to sources, league officials are trying to gather more background on the matter before addressing the controversy.
The controversy involving Parker and Diaw comes after French soccer player Nicolas Anelka displayed the quenelle following a goal he scored Saturday for his English Premier League team, West Bromwich Albion, in a match against West Ham United.
Anelka, who has a history of being involved in various controversies, later said the gesture was meant as a salute to his friend, the comedian known just as Dieudonne.
The “quenelle” has been popularized by Dieudonne, who is a well-known actor, comedian and political figure in France.