If there's one thing Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima is not known for, it's her political views. So it was a bit of surprise last month when a video popped up of the Victoria's Secret star doing something unusually provocative.

As Hurriyet Daily News reported in July, Lima was filmed in a Miami gym making the head of a wolf with her thumb, middle and ring fingers  and shouting the word "bozkurt" before howling — rather endearingly. But there's nothing sweet about the gesture.

It's associated with the Grey Wolves, a Turkish paramilitary organization connected to the ultra-nationalist MHP, a far-right party that's a powerful force in Turkey's politics and was recently involved in failed coalition talks to form the country's next government.

Before reforming over the past decade, the Grey Wolves were linked to numerous acts of political violence, including bombings, assassinations and attacks on journalists, Kurds, leftist students, activists and others. This year, Grey Wolves were linked to a spate of anti-Chinese attacks across Turkey, sparked by nationalist anger over Beijing's treatment of the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority living mostly in far western China.

Suffice to say, Lima probably wasn't aware of any of this historical baggage. On Monday, a spokesman for the Victoria's Secret model told the Daily Mail that "she was unaware of the wider context of what she was doing or its association to a political group." He explained further to the British tabloid:

'The video was prompted and taped by a Turkish boxer who visited Adriana's local gym in Miami earlier this summer.
'She was told the hand signal and call-out were the names of his local gym...
‘Adriana has no affiliation to any political party in Turkey and unequivocally denies any implied association to these organizations.
‘She is personally disappointed that her good will was taken advantage of to create a video, released without her knowledge or consent, that upsets any community.'

Nationalist tensions are particularly high in Turkey at present, with the past month seeing a resumption of the long-running war against Kurdish guerrillas in the country's restive southeast. Turkish forces have killed hundreds of fighters belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The group is considered a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Washington.

For many Kurds, the Grey Wolves gesture has long been a resented symbol of their own repression at the hands of Turkish nationalists.

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