(JNS.org) National Basketball Association (NBA) star Tony Parker apologized for using the anti-Semitic “quenelle” arm gesture.
The gesture, which has been described as a “reverse Nazi salute,” was made famous by French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Dieudonné, who ran for the European Parliament under the “anti-Zionist” party list in 2009 and supports the French far-right party National Front, began openly attacking Jews in 2002. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said his government is considering banning the comedian.
A photo recently appeared on Twitter of Dieudonné and Parker, a point guard with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, doing the salute together. Several other French athletes and celebrities have been seen making the gesture, which has become popular among French youths.
“The gesture has gained popularity amongst young people, and reunites extremists from the Islamist camp, the extreme right, and left as well as revolutionaries with one common objective: the fight against the ‘Tel-Aviv-Washington axis’ as well as Jewish power and Zionism,” Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Paris office, told JNS.org.
Parker said in a statement, “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.”
“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.
According to AFP, prosecutors are also investigating a photo of a man wearing a Yasser Arafat t-shirt and doing the quenelle salute outside of the Ohr Torah Jewish School in Toulouse, France—the site of the 2012 terrorist attack by Mohammed Merah, who killed a rabbi and three Jewish children.