San Antonio Spurs star guard Tony Parker has applogized for making the “quenelle” hand signal which is regarded as anti-Semitic in France.
A backstage photo of Parker doing the gesture with controversial French comedian Dieudonne surfaced on social media in the last few days. The quenelle has been called a Nazi salute in reverse. Apparently a similar photo exists with Spurs teammate Boris Diaw also posing with Dieudonne, who popularized the gesture in France.
As The Inquistr previously reported, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has been fined previously for hate speech, said he is not anti-Semitic. He claims that the gesture, in which he points his arm downward, stands for anti-Zionism and anti-establishment views.
Parker was born in Belgium, but grew up in France, and is the captain of the French national team.
In a statement of apology issued today, Tony Parker said the following:
“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. 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. 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.”
So far, the NBA has not yet commented on the Tony Parker quenelle issue.
Soccer player Nicolas Anelka created a controversy on Saturday after he celebrated a goal in the English Premier League with the quenelle, which he claimed was merely a dedication to his friend Dieudonne and was not meant to be offensive. The geture was condemned by French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron as “shocking” and “disgusting.” Anelka subsequently agreed to no longer use the quenelle in goal celebrations, but could face discipline.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise in France, including acts of violence against Jews, prompting some French citizens of the Jewish faith to immigrate to Israel or other countries.
Responding to the Tony Parker quenelle apology, an official with the Simon Wiesenthal Center said the following:
“The Simon Wiesenthal Center takes Mr. Parker at his word. There is however, one more crucial step that he needs to take: a statement in French to reassure 600,000 French Jews and the multitude of his young fans in France that he disassociates himself from the quenelle salute and everything it stands for.”