Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, had been accused of converting to Islam after his decision to sit through the national anthem during the preseason.
Some even went as far to call him “a traitor” to the country. But Kaepernick finally put to rest those rumors on Wednesday, confirming that he never converted to Islam despite his girlfriend Nessa Diab.
“I have great respect for the religion, know a lot of people that are Muslim and are phenomenal people. But I think that [rumor of conversion] comes along with people’s fear of this protest, as well as Islamophobia in this country.
“People are terrified of them to the point where Trump wants to ban all Muslims from coming here, which is ridiculous,” said the Niners’ backup quarterback.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had converted to Islam more than 30 years ago to protest against the wrongdoings against people of color, has been a vocal supporter of Kaepernick.
And due to Abdul-Jabbar’s support, many assumed that Kaepernick, too, had used religion as a tool to protest.
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Colin Kaepernick: I am not Muslim
Kaepernick also addressed the rumors that his girlfriend, Nessa Diab, forced him to convert to Islam.
“The impact is just conversations that we constantly have. This is an open discussion that I have with many people, not just my woman. She is Muslim, her family is Muslim, I have great respect for them.
“I have great respect for people’s right to believe what they want to believe. And I don’t think anybody should be prosecuted or judged based on what their beliefs are,” added the 28-year-old native of Milwaukee.
According to the NY Daily News, rumors about Kaepernick converting gained steam after two images circulated on the Internet following the August 26 preseason game.
“One showed Kaepernick wearing a black shirt with a Photoshopped ISIS logo; the other was a photo of Osama bin Laden with the QB’s face pasted over it, with bin Laden’s beard and turban intact,” read the report.