“Tony (Parker) doesn’t have an anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim or anti-Christian bone in his body,” says Spurs head coach of his veteran PG, and prior to this week, who amongst us would’ve presumed otherwise? Trouble is, there’s a 2011 snapshot of Parker mugging for the camera with French comedian/activist Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala (above, left), and the pose in question is the same one that recently got Nicolas Anelka in hot water. From the San Antonio Express-News’ Dan McCarney :

Originally meant as an insult, the gesture — made by holding one arm straight, while touching that arm’s shoulder with the opposite hand — has been adopted as one of Dieudonné’s personal emblems. He claims it’s a show of anti-authoritarianism, but a wide array of critics consider the quenelle to be anti-Semitic.

Dieudonné has been convicted numerous times in France for violating that country’s laws against hate speech. An interior minister announced his intent last Friday to ban the comedian from performing publicly, after which French soccer player Nicolas Anelka made the gesture during an English Premier League match on Saturday to spark the furor which quickly enveloped Parker.

Parker released a 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.”