NFL : Flagging A Muslim …!

Gatorade celebration

Albert Campus in his Novel The Stranger, published, 1942, he talks about emptiness of life, after killing an arab on the beach in Algeria where he lived, Which inspired a musical band “The Cure” to have a hit song by the same name “Killing an Arab. This is the NFL version of “Flagging a Muslim” on the football field.


I don’t usually watch or follow football, let alone Monday Night Football. It involves too much hype and too much violence. It’s too patriotic, too black and white, too territorial — too American. A game that celebrate American exceptionalism.

But like millions around the world, I heard the news about the Muslim player who got penalized for praying on the field. And I heard lots of discussion and debate about the motives and the double standard and the National Football League’s Islamophobic culture.

The Washington Post opened its story with a headline that is not so strange for Muslims nowadays: “NFL penalizes Muslim player for praying.” Muslims are constantly flagged in airports, subways, shopping malls and streets. Then it reported: “When Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it for a touchdown Monday night, he did what so many other NFL players do to celebrate a big play: He paused to make a religious gesture of thanks.” The report went on: “But Abdullah, a devout Muslim [by the way, I have no idea what that means], found that his religious display was met with less latitude than, say, Tim Tebow when he brought Tebowing into the NFL.” According to the Post, “Abdullah was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct because he slid to the ground, then knelt in the end zone.”

Tebowing is another religious kneeling celebration that involved the ground. Apparently, celebrating by dumping a tank of Gatorade on a coach is also OK.

I don’t think this is about religion. It is about NFL control. It is about keeping the biggest American sport — American. keeping the NFL brand clean, and Islam free. No terrorist praying monkey business.

I have no trouble understanding this double standard. The NFL is in the business of promoting major sponsors’ products, not God.

It’s a sport where violence is permitted and celebrated, constantly cheered on by half-naked young women on the sidelines.

I never was a big fan of displaying religious symbols or prayers in professional sports. Like, Dude, I don’t really care about how much you love God. You are making hundreds of thousands of dollars for every few minutes on the field. If that’s OK with your god, it is not with mine.

Muslim prayer as a post-score celebration has been common in the world of “football” (soccer) for years. That sport features players from all over the world, and each celebrates in his own ways and culture — including Muslim players who score goals. But in our post-ISIL beheading era, we here in America live in a very different world, where people on the street, politicians and the media (led by Fox News) call for the beheading of Islam.
Of course, the NFL has clarified the kneeling ruling, saying “Abdullah should not have been penalized.” Michael Signora, the league’s vice president of football communications, said in a tweet: “Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons.”

As Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” The NFL’s penalizing a Muslim for praying was a mistake, but not as big a mistake as our drones make every day in Afghanistan and Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

Abdullah tried to see the funny side of all this. He said he spoke with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who explained that the flag likely came for the slide, not the prayer after the “pick six.”

“Stop before you drop,” Abdullah said.

Now Abdullah has two choices: stop bringing his faith to the field or stop intercepting passes.

Given that the Chiefs smashed the Patriots, 41-14, sportswriter Larry Brown wrote on his website that “maybe the referees thought Abdullah was rubbing it in and didn’t realize his gesture was a simple prayer.”

ReallyRick put it more bluntly with a tweet: “You can rape, murder, beat, fight, etc but dont even THINK about praying!”

The difference between raising your hands to the sky or kneeling to the ground could be, for the NFL, just 15 yards. But culturally, it is a much wider distance.

Coach Reid rained on this end-zone prayer debacle with a very interesting analogy. Reid didn’t agree with the penalty, but he also didn’t make much of the controversy. News reports quote him going on to say: “When you go to Mecca” [for him, the end zone], “you should have the privilege to slide anywhere you want to slide. We have two priests in here. I think they will vouch for me.”

Good timing, coach, especially just as millions of Muslim pilgrims are reaching Mecca right now in the time of hajj. I can’t help thinking of some hard-core football fans sliding around the sanctuary house in celebration.

For anyone wondering why angry Muslims join ISIL, this whole saga along with not having “Shattaf” bidet in public bathrooms, could easily make the list.



Ahmed Tharwat is a public speaker and hosts the Arab-American show “Belahdan” at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on Twin Cities Public Television. He blogs at

Ahmed Tharwat is a public speaker and hosts the Arab-American show “Belahdan” at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on Twin Cities Public Television. He blogs at
Ahmed Tharwat/ TV Host/Producer
BelAhdan with Ahmed Tharwat Airs on Public TV
Mondays, 10:30pm
Public Speaker
Blogs at
In the middle/
lives in Minnetonka, MN

can be reach on fBook, Twitter, Google, Plus, Linkedin, @ahmediatv

— Ahmed Tharwat (@ahmediaTV) September 30, 2014

Finally the Parrot spoken


Ahmed Tharwat …. in the middle AhMedia.... احا مديا A media critic, and a media consultant... A show with an accent for those without one! AhMedia احا مديا Ahmed Tharwat/ Host BelAhdan TV show Freelance Writer, Public Speaker, International Media Fixer


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