USA TODAY, December 9, 2015
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. As anti-Muslim rhetoric has filled television airwaves and swamped social media over the last week, Muslim athletes have begun reaching out to one another, said Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Harris.
What should we say, theyve asked each other, and how should we say it? All they know is they cant be silent.
As Muslims, anyone who murders, kills, does anything like that, it is so against the tenets of Islam, that it doesn't even warrant a response. It's like (Donald) Trump's comments don't even warrant a response. But now we're at a point where we have to say something, Harris told USA TODAY Sports.
Harris was traveling with the Broncos from San Diego on Sunday night when President Obama spoke to the nation, denouncing anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the attack in San Bernardino, Calif., last week.
"Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors; our co-workers, our sports heroes and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform," President Obama said.
Harris didnt immediately see Trumps response on Twitter, which was to question Obamas assertion that there were Muslim athletes. But shortly after landing back in Colorado, he saw his Twitter timeline filled with mentions of his name as one of dozens of prominent Muslims playing professional sports.
People need to know, I have had the best experience being Muslim both at Notre Dame and in NFL. Every single one of my coaches has respected me, asked me about it. My teammates ask me about it. I have never experienced any xenophobia in the NFL, Harris said. You talk about Muhammad Ali, you talk about in Houston Hakeem Olajuwon. Every single sports fan in Houston knows about fasting, Ramadan, and Islam because Hakeem fasted. You know what I mean? In Kansas City, people know Husain Abdullah. It's such a contrast to what you're seeing with the xenophobic hate speech. But it's having an effect, and its unfortunate.
While Harris said the locker room has always been a safe place for him, he understands that many of his peers dont have that same security.
The only Muslims I know are peaceful, loving people, that's the overwhelming majority. I can also tell you, a lot of Muslims are getting scared. When you start hearing that kind of rhetoric, and you can never control what some psychopathic extremist is going to do that's going to have an effect on all of us, Harris said.
In all of my years of being Muslim, I feel this is the most tense it's been in terms of Muslims having a lot of fear. Not as much me I mean, I'm 300 pounds, I'll be OK. But for the Muslim woman who wears a hijab and goes to work, or the Muslim kid in school right now, it's tough.