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Spurs' Tony Parker apologizes for polarizing 'quenelle' gesture

By Royce Young | NBA writer

UPDATE: Parker released this statement on Monday: "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."

Over the weekend, West Bromich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka performed a gesture called the "quenelle" after scoring a goal. The gesture, popularized by a controversial French comedian, is said to be a "reverse Nazi salute" and seen to be anti-Semitic. Because of it, Anelka is facing a five-game ban in the English Premier League.

And now a photo of Spurs guard and French national team member Tony Parker has surfaced of him also doing the gesture. Because of it, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has asked him to apologize, via the New York Daily News:

French media outlets published a photo taken earlier this year of the French-born Parker doing the "quenelle," as it is known, at the side of Dieudonne, a comedian and accused anti-Semite who coined the gesture, according to the Algemeiner, a New York-based newspaper that covers Jewish and Israel-related topics. The Spurs host the Nets on Tuesday and the Knicks on Thursday.

"It's the Nazi salute in reverse," Roger Cukierman, leader of the French partner of the World Jewish Congress, told Reuters.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group named after the Nazi hunter, urged Parker on Sunday to "apologize for his past use of the quenelle 'Nazi' salute," according to the Algemeiner.

"As a leading sports figure on both sides of the Atlantic, Parker has a special moral obligation to disassociate himself from a gesture that the government of France has identified as anti-Semitic," Cooper said.

The photograph was taken in September as Parker attended on of Diuedonne's shows. There is also a picture of Parker's teammate and fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw performing it as well.

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