Photo Caption: NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on CNN’s World Sport Program, Wednesday, Jan. 14. Photo Credit: CNN.com
By OnIslam and News Agencies
Washington – “It’s not what Islam is about.” That was the clear opinion given by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of America’s most decorated athletes, on the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly.
“Most Muslims do not become Muslims to indulge in murder and mayhem,” Abdul-Jabbar, the leading point scorer in NBA history, told CNN’s World Sport on Wednesday, January 14.
“We try to live lives of peace and harmony within ourselves and with our neighbors,” Abdul-Jabbar, a best-selling author who was in London promoting a pair of new books including a fictional work about Sherlock Holmes’ brother, added.
The Muslim athlete was speaking a week after brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi killed 12 people at the French satirical magazine, including two Muslims, Muslim police cop and an editor.
The comments echoed a similar opinion he expressed in a column for the website of Time magazine last week.
In this article, Abdul-Jabbar said he was looking forward to the day when “these terrorists praising the Prophet (Mohammed) or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims.”
He pointed to some aspects which might lead to people’s radicalization, citing poverty or lack of opportunities in education as two examples.
“They become radicalized by the lack of opportunity and anything in their future that has any promise,” the all-time NBA scoring leader told CNN.
“They embrace violence. They try to use religion as something to justify that. But nothing justifies that.”
The NBA star is not the first Muslim to condemn Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam.
Regarded a role-model for many Americans, Muslims and non-Muslims, Abdul-Jabbar opines sports can play a role in bringing people from different backgrounds together.
“Sport absolutely plays a part in that,” he said.
“When you spend all of your time trying to develop the talent for a sport and you see people doing the same thing from a different culture and you have the same interests, there’s common ground there.
“And you can go from that to find more common ground. I think sport has gone a great way to doing that.”
One of the clearest examples was US and China ping-pong policy.
“Look at the US-China relationship — ping-pong was the thing that opened the door. A sporting event,” he said.
Nevertheless, he maintained that media keeps a major rule in spreading true Islam.
“I’d just like to see a better understanding by the media as to what Islam is all about as opposed to what the terrorists say it’s about,” he continued.
“I think that is the key issue here. Once those things get cleared up, I think we can make some progress.”
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net and is reprinted here with permission.