The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling on NBA star Tony Parker to apologize for his past use of the “quenelle” gesture that is widely considered to be anti-Semitic and similar to a Nazi salute.
French media reports earlier this year showed a picture of the San Antonio Spurs player backstage at a French theater making the gesture alongside its creator, anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné, The Algemeiner reports.
“It’s the Nazi salute in reverse,” Roger Cukierman, the leader of an umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, told Reuters.
In addition, a video shows Parker making the gesture during a French TV interview.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Sunday that Parker should apologize.
“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, according to The Algemeiner. “It's disgusting and dangerous and he needs to apologize.”
The call came a day after French soccer player Nicolas Anelka came under criticism for his use of the gesture after scoring a goal for English Premier League soccer club West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
According to AFP, on Sunday Anelka issued a series of tweets rejecting claims that the gesture he made was anti-Semitic.
His response came amid growing outrage online and internationally, and a risk that he could face match suspensions if England's Football Association finds his act racially offensive.
Anelka argued in his tweets that the gesture was merely "anti-establishment".