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Obama: Muslim Americans Are Sporting Heroes – Are They?

U.S. President Barack Obama tonight addressed lectured the American people about the San Bernardino attack, gun control, Islamic State (or rather ‘ISIL’ – still better than Daesh) and Muslim Americans.

After talking about his plus ça change strategy to tackling the Islamic State, he began telling Americans what they “should not do”. Because everyone loves that estranged father who comes back into your life just in time to tell you how to behave.

Curiously, he used this part of his lecture to state:

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. We have to remember that.

Yes, lots of Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbours. Lots of them own restaurants we go to. Lots of them own the corner shops we buy our cigarettes from. And some of them are indeed men and women in uniform, though I might have left that out if I were Mr. Obama, given that just moments ago in his speech, he used the famous workplace violence terrorist example of Fort Hood to talk about terrorism in the United States.

But he mentioned SPORTS HEROES. Sports heroes?! Colour me dreadfully confused.

I can’t name a single Muslim-American sports hero. And what’s with “Muslim American” anyway? Why isn’t it American Muslim? In England, we don’t say Muslim Briton. We say British Muslim. The point is you put your country first.

Anyway, back to sports heroes.

Okay, there was the embarrassingly-named Muhammed Ali (it’d be like me deciding I’m white and picking the name John Smith) and of course we’ve got convicted rapist and ear-biter Mike Tyson. But who else might Mr. Obama consider to be his “Muslim American” sporting heroes?

1. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

It’d be a stretch, because Mr. Abdul Jabbar is 68 years old. So not exactly current. In 1968, Abdul Jabbar – then named Lew Alcindor – boycotted the U.S. national Olympic basketball team. Sounds like a patriotic American eh? Well he’s also spoke in defence of Shariah Law, claiming: “None of the people that have that criticism of Shariah law have checked out the law because it’s not even for non-Muslims. Sharia law is for ruling an Islamic state” and in supporting Shariah, with all its violent and oppressive components. He said: “Shariah law is for Muslims. So if there is a Muslim majority state then it has to be run by sharia law”.

2. Mahmoud Abdul Rauf

Probably wise to steer clear of this one too, Mr. Obama. Mr. Abdul Rauf (49) was a point guard for the Denver Nuggets, the Sacramento Kings, and later in life, for Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia. But what he’s most famous for is an incident in 1996, when he was asked why he never stood for the singing of the U.S. national anthem. He replied: that the American flag is a “symbol of oppression, of tyranny,” adding: “I’m a Muslim first and a Muslim last… My duty is to my creator, not to nationalistic ideology.” Nice.

3. Dion Waiters

Yes, we should get a little more contemporary, so let’s look at Mr. Waiters, currently a shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder (no, I don’t know either). Anyway, Mr. Waiters recently became embroiled in a similar incident to that of the above Mr. Abdul Rauf. Cleveland.com reported last November that Mr. Waiters was skipping the national anthem, telling the North East Ohio Media Group: “It’s because of my religion”. He later denied saying it, and claimed there was a “miscommunication”. We report, you decide…

4. Husain Abdullah (pictured above in Mecca)

Known as the face of Islam in the NFL, Mr. Abdullah courted controversy by praying the Islamic sajdah on the field, in contravention of NFL celebration rules. His agent threatened at the time: “If the NFL tries to fine @HAbdullah39 for his [touchdown] celebration there’s going to be some problems”. While originally penalised, he found the Council on American Islamic Relations quickly lobbying for him, returning to the NFL only after a year-long, Hajj-inclusive tour to Saudi Arabia. He gave an interview in 2012 that began: “Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah thought about never coming back”. So far, so what? He’s a practicing Muslim who did his faith’s equivalent of Tebowing, then went on the Hajj and thought of never coming back.

Well Mr. Abdullah has also spoken at Southern Methodist University’s Islam Awareness Week, run by the Muslim Brotherhood-founded Muslim Student Association. Mr. Abdullah and his brother Hamza were lauded on Al Jazeera’s The Stream TV show, introduced as brothers who “decided to walk away from… America’s favourite sport, all in the name of Islam”. Amusingly, I spotted that while the Al Jazeera host shared her desktop screen during the show, she was reading a Breitbart News article entitled: “Bill Cosby: We Should All Be More Like Muslims“.

During the interview, Husain said, “If you’re a Muslim, you’re on our team” (here was me thinking that football teams were made of up more than Muslims) while Hamza talked about making “halal investments” with his money, since the pair are not allowed to earn interest in Islam. The fact they were interviewed by a woman with an uncovered head may disclose their half hearted approach to their professed faith, but perhaps Mr. Obama didn’t have people who abdicate their footballing responsibilities in mind when he said “Muslim-Americans are… our sports heroes”.

5. Oday Aboushi

Formerly of the New York Jets, now of the Houston Texans, Aboushi’s credentials were called into question by a blog by FrontpageMag, which alleged his praising of the controversial Islamic Relief organisation, as well as tweets by Mr. Aboushi which Frontpage called “extreme anti-Israelism”. The Anti-Defamation League defended Aboushi.

The list goes on – not for very long by the way. There’s a handful of active Muslim sports players in the United States, and as far as I can tell, a significant percentage of them have done or said things which call into question – to my mind at least – their dedication to the United States of America first.

Are these what Mr. Obama meants about Muslims being America’s sporting heroes. Or was he again hoping no one would look into the claim?

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