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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar And Muhammad Ali Remind Trump They're Muslim
On Sunday, during his televised address to the nation, President Obama reminded Americans to reject intolerance and respect Muslims. "Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes—and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country," said Obama. "We have to remember that."
Of course, hate-mongering, attention-whoring opportunist Donald Trump—who is running for a president on a platform of bigotry and lies—seized on that sentence to further marginalize the third-largest religious group in the America, claiming he didn't know any that were sports heroes:
Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015
Deadspin put together a handy list, and Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski dug up a 1999 interview with Trump from Advocate magazine, where the mogul says being friends with Muhammad Ali (the most famous Muslim athlete of them all) has given him "an appreciation for other cultures."
On Wednesday, two of America's greatest Muslim sports heroes fired back at Trump, calling him out on his hateful rhetoric.
In his column for TIME magazine, 6-time NBA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar compared Trump's campaign to terrorism, writing, "Trump is ISIS's greatest triumph: the perfect Manchurian Candidate who, instead of offering specific and realistic policies, preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS's job for them."
"While Trump is not slaughtering innocent people, he is exploiting such acts of violence to create terror here to coerce support," Abdul-Jabbar continues. "As I have written before, his acts could be interpreted as hate crimes."
He even took the opportunity to directly respond to Trump's insinuation that there were no notable Muslim athletes (even though Abdul-Jabbar provides a photo of one time they actually met):
Trump's latest enemy du jour are Muslims. He's the schoolyard bully rallying classmates to make fun of the skinny kid with glasses. When President Obama said that "Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbors; our co-workers, our sports heroes," Trump quickly tweeted: "What sport is he talking about, and who?" The press immediately provided him with a list, as well as photos of Trump with prominent Muslim-American sports figures, including Shaquille O'Neal, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and, yes, me. What makes his statement even more insidious is the suggestion that, even if there were no Muslim sports heroes, Muslims would somehow be lesser people, less worthy. This cruel and dim-witted thinking is not the stuff presidents are made of.
Also on Wednesday, Muhammad Ali released his own statement firing back at Trump. While he never mentions his old "friend" by name, the headline makes clear: "Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States."
The statement, released to NBC News, reads:
I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion. We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.
Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is.