Muslim NFL player penalized for praying after touchdown

After scoring a touchdown, Husain Abdullah kneeled to the ground briefly and touched his head to the turf, mimicking the prayer motion that Muslims perform when worshiping.

September 30, 2014 08:30
1 minute read.
Husain Abdullah

Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah (39) returns an interception for a touchdown against New England. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Social media was abuzz Tuesday morning after a Muslim player for an American professional football team was penalized for praying in a celebratory manner following a touchdown that he scored for his team.

Husain Abdullah, a defensive back for the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, intercepted a pass thrown by New England’s Tom Brady and returned it to the end zone for a touchdown during his team’s victory on Monday night in Kansas City.

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After scoring the touchdown, Abdullah then kneeled to the ground briefly and touched his head to the turf, mimicking the prayer motion that Muslims perform when worshiping.

The referees officiating the game penalized Abdullah for unsportsmanlike conduct, resulting in a 15-yard penalty for his team.

The penalty ignited a debate on social media sites with critics crying foul over what they perceive as a double standard when it comes to NFL players making gestures of worship during games.

Tim Tebow, a former quarterback for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, became a lightning rod of controversy for his overt expressions of religious sentiment during games. His trademark celebratory gesture, “Tebowing” – in which the quarterback got down on bended knee and put his clenched fist to his forehead while praying - turned into a viral sensation that spread on social media.

In light of Abdullah’s penalty, there are some who suggest that Tebow was celebrated due to his Christian faith while the Kansas City player was singled out due to his devotion to Islam.

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