Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested late Sunday that President Barack Obama was “profiling” by pointing out that Muslim Americans have had distinguished athletic careers during his speech about combatting terrorism and Islamophobia in the US.
Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015
Towards the end of a lengthy adress about counter-terror strategies, Obama reminded Americans that making negative generalizations about Muslims plays into the hands of terrorist groups like the Islamic State.
“Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes—and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country,” Obama said in his Oval Office speech. “We have to remember that.”
Trump cast doubt on Obama’s suggestion, asking his Twitter followers to name Muslims who have excelled as athletes. Many quickly responded with some of the most iconic examples, including former Lakers basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, retired NBA icon Shaquille O’Neil and 2011 first-round NFL draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson. As Gawker noted, Trump himself won the 2007 Muhammad Ali Entrepreneur Award and met the former heavyweight boxing champion and follower of Sufi Islam at the event.
Mother Jones reported that Trump is also close friends with Mike Tyson, the former boxer and convert to Islam, and tried to help prevent him from being imprisoned for a 1992 rape conviction.