Muslim College Player Kicked Off Team For Religious Reasons

ERIC WONG is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Student Refused to Stand During National Anthem

A Muslim student has been kicked off his college basketball team for failing to stand during the national anthem. Nineteen-year-old Rasoom Samir continued to shoot basketballs as the anthem played, ahead of his Garden City’s Community college’s game on November 1.

“Disrespect for the Flag”

Jim Howard, a school booster confronted Samir and the two had to be separated by a campus officer. Howard claimed that anyone who did not respect the flag should not be on the team, or in the school for that matter. “I’ve had enough of disrespecting our flag,” he said. “I’ve been raising money for 32 years for this college, trying to help pay for scholarships for these kids. If they’re not going to respect our flag, then they need to get off of our campus and out of Garden City.

Samir, who is no longer a student at Garden City claimed that he has religious objections to the anthem and he was not being disrespectful. “I did not mean any disrespect at all to the fans or the flag at last night’s game,” Samir said. “I am truly sorry to anyone that felt disrespected, and I am also sorry to the school. I apologize for what happened.”

Complaint with ACLU

He has since filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), citing a violation of his First Amendment rights. This was not the first time that Samir failed to stand still for the national anthem, having maintained a similar routine previously, but it was the first time that caused an incident.

The ACLU of Kansas consequently sent the school a letter, asking them to address the allegations of violation of Samir’s rights. They defended Samir’s right not to participate as enshrined in the First Amendment, saying “he refrained from participating in the anthem because he is a Muslim and his faith prohibits acts of reverence to anything but God.”

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