Muslim NFL players respond to Trump: 'We can’t have this ignorance in office'
Donald Trump (John Premble/Flickr)

Detroit Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus and running back Ameer Abdullah have joined the chorus of criticism against Donald Trump in the wake of the Republican frontrunner’s incendiary proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the US.

Trump’s plan for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims prompted immediate condemnation from across the political spectrum, with fellow presidential contender Jeb Bush denouncing Trump’s comments as “unhinged”. The Lions pair, who are Muslim, spoke eloquently on Wednesday on how Trump “says a lot of things for shock value” but admitted his remarks were “pretty ignorant” and “kind of disappointing”.

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Abdul-Quddus said he believes that the percentage of Americans who believe Islam is “evil” is small, and not reflected by Trump’s statements this week. “It was one of those things that … I kind of look at the person before I look at the comment,” Abdul-Quddus said. “Because Trump says a lot of things for shock value to get people to hear him and listen to him, and just to put his face in public.

“I don’t really feel much disrespect when he said that, because he already said he wanted to label us. He wanted to have every [Muslim] have an ID and everything, so I just kind of chalk it up as a guy that’s pretty ignorant.”

But Abdul-Quddus said he is concerned that Trump’s words might fan anti-Muslim sentiment, particularly if his popularity in the polls continues. “That’s the scary part,” Abdul-Quddus said. “I’m just hoping that either he can change his mindset to be a bit more open-minded, or people just realize we can’t have this ignorance in office.”

Trump has brushed off the horrified reaction to his proposal and remained unrepentant. He told a raucous crowd aboard the USS Yorkstown on Tuesday: “We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on.” He acknowleged his words were “probably not politically correct – But. I. Don’t. Care.”

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Abdullah said of Tump: “He’ll say some things, and the large following that he has – he has a very large following – is kind of disappointing, from my perspective.”

Abdullah, in his first season with the Lions, and Abdul-Quddus, in his second, said they’ve been treated well by people in Detroit, and have not experienced religious bigotry since coming to the NFL. Abdullah, however, said he was called derogatory names growing up in Alabama.

Abdullah said. “All I do is encourage people to educate themselves before taking a stance, before just listening to someone, before making a judgment or decision on how you should treat a person or talk to a person.

“You can’t control everyone. All you can do is pray for them and hope that one day they’ll realize that everyone’s just people. You got to love everyone, you got to respect everyone and understand that people who make [bad] decisions are their own type of people. It’s a huge difference.”

Abdullah also said he’s more worried about this Sunday’s game against the St Louis Rams than anything Trump has to say.

“I thought it was something that a lot of people wouldn’t really follow or agree with, so I didn’t really give it much attention initially,” he said. “But just looking at it, I know Donald Trump actually has a pretty large following, so it is what it is.” © Guardian News and Media 2015