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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

November 20, 2005
McCarthyism Watch

From The Progressive:

Muslim-American Running Back off the Team at New Mexico State

his was supposed to be Muammar Ali’s year at New Mexico State. “Muammar Ali, who led the team with 561 yards rushing, will get even more opportunities,” predicted SI.com in its NCAA football preview.

But he has no opportunities now. He’s off the team.

On October 9, he “received a message on his phone answering machine at his home that his jersey was being pulled and that he was released,” says a letter from his attorney, George Bach, of the ACLU of New Mexico, to the university.

That letter, dated October 25, alleges that Head Coach Hal Mumme engaged in religious discrimination.

“Coach Mumme questioned Mr. Ali repeatedly about Islam and specifically, its ties to Al-Qaeda,” the letter states. This made Mr. Ali uncomfortable, it says.

And then, after the team’s first game, “despite being the star tailback for several years, Mr. Ali was relegated to fifth string and not even permitted to travel with the team,” the letter says.

There were only two other Muslim players on the team, and they were also released, it says. The letter adds that the coach “regularly has players recite the Lord’s Prayer after each practice and before each game.”

Ali’s father, Mustafa Ali, says the trouble started at a practice over the summer when the coach told the players to pray.

“My son and two other players who were Muslim, they were praying in a different manner, and the coach asked them, ‘What are you doing?’ They said, ‘We’re Muslims. This is how we pray.’ That had a lot to do with how things went south.”

The weird thing is that I never used to think of New Mexico as a hotbed of wingnuttery.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:14 AM


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