The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on NBA star Tony Parker to apologize for his past alleged use of a gesture considered as anti-Semitic and seen by many as a Nazi salute in reverse.
The call by the center comes a day after a French soccer player, Nicholas Anelka, performed the same gesture, known as "quenelle" and used by French comedian Dieudonné, to celebrate a goal during an English Premier League match on Saturday.
Parker, who plays as a point guard for the San Antonio Spurs and on the French national basketball team, performed the Nazi-like salute a few times in the past year, according to French reports.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the SWC, criticized Parker in an interview with the Algemeiner on Sunday, saying that his use of the gesture was "disgusting and dangerous," and that the star was “mainstreaming anti-Semitic hate.”
“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, adding that the basketball star should, “apologize for his use of the quenelle ‘Nazi’ salute.”
French media reports in recent months published a picture, apparently taken earlier this year, of Parker performing the 'Nazi' salute with Dieudonné backstage at a French theater. Other reports show Parker allegedly doing the "quenelle" while appearing on a French television show, Grand Journal.
Jewish groups have complained to French President Francois Hollande about Dieudonne's trademark gesture, which they have linked to anti-Semitic incidents in France. The French government is considering ways to ban performances by the comedian, who is a friend of Anelka.
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