Colin Kaepernick spoke out on rumors that he converted to Islam, saying that while the viral reports are not true, he does understand the plight of Muslims in American society.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been the center of controversy during the NFL preseason when he decided to sit during the national anthem in protest of police abuses against the African-American community.
Colin Kaepernick has also been the center of viral rumors claiming that he has converted to Islam and that his protest is an outcropping of his new religion.
Kaepernick actually addressed the rumors this week, telling CBS San Francisco that he is not a Muslim.
“I’ve seen that,” Kaepernick said about the rumors. “I haven’t. I have great respect for the religion. I know a lot of people who are Muslim and they are phenomenal people. But I think this comes about with people’s fears over this protest as well as the Islamophobia in this country. People are terrified of them to the point where (presidential candidate Donald) Trump wants to ban all Muslims from being here. Which is ridiculous.”
While the rumors that Colin Kaepernick converted to Islam may be false, the controversy surrounding his decision to sit out the national anthem is very real. His stance has drawn a number of critics, including some from within the NFL community.
Former NFL All-Pro-turned-commentator Ray Lewis said he disagrees with Kaepernick centering his protest on the American flag, saying there could be a more effective yet respectful way to get his point across.
“I understand what you’re trying to do, but take the flag out of it,” he said on Fox Sports 1. “I have uncles, I have brothers who walked out of my house going into the military that said ‘I will never see you again.’ To understand that, I will always respect that part of what our patriotism should be and that’s the side, I think if Colin really just steps back, because to affect change, if you don’t have a real solution, if you ain’t seen as a true activist to go into these hoods and do these things on a daily basis and not just jump up and protest because you’re sick of this one thing … we’ve been sick of racism for 400 plus years.”
Kaepernick has also seen his share of support, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who, before his team’s Thursday Night Football game, took a knee during the national anthem in support of Kaepernick’s protest.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 9, 2016
President Barack Obama has also weighed in, saying that Kaepernick has a right to express his protest, and there are some real concerns. He also acknowledged that it may be difficult for some to get past the controversy of his protest.
But Colin Kaepernick has also tried to turn the attention from his protest into something positive for the communities he is advocating for. As sales of his San Francisco 49ers jersey boom, Kaepernick announced in an Instagram post that he would be donating his proceeds to community causes. He has also pledged to donate $1 million of his 2016 salary.
— HuffPost Sports (@HuffPostSports) September 9, 2016
Kaepernick started his protest during the preseason, taking a knee during the national anthem as a protest of the treatment of people in the African-American community by law enforcement officers, NFL.com reported. Kaepernick went on to say that he is not going to stand and show pride “for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he said. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
While Colin Kaepernick may have spoken out to end the rumors that he is a Muslim, it appears that his protest will continue on.
[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]