WASHINGTON – A Muslim basketball legend has defended his comments after Chralie Hebdo attacks earlier this month, asserting that Islam is a religion of peace which extremists use as a mask to cover their crimes."Islam is a religion of peace, Islam does not tolerate wanton murder,” basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told NBC “Meet The Press” on Sunday, January 25.
The Muslim athlete was criticized earlier this month after declaring the Paris attacks were not about religion, but "about money."
His opinion was expressed in an interview with the CNN as well as an editorial in “Time Magazine”.
"Knowing that these terrorist attacks are not about religion, we have to reach a point where we stop bringing Islam into these discussions. I know we aren't there yet because much of the Western population doesn't understand the Islamic religion," Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
The outspoken athlete said he wanted Americans to understand about his religion."Knowledge will enable everybody to understand what exactly we're dealing with."He blamed terrorists who "do not represent the teachings of Islam" for making it "impossible for real Muslims to be understood."
The Muslim athlete was speaking weeks after brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi killed 12 people at the French satirical magazine, including two Muslims, Muslim police cop and an editor.
Though all sides in the US have explained that extremists were misusing Islam, he said that Islamophobia is still on the rise in the United States.
"There's going to have to be change in countries where these people originate, where they have hope, where they have something to look forward to in their lives," the former basketball player said.
"Most of these people come from countries where there's no possible way for them to get ahead."He added that these violent groups were using Islam to serve their "political agenda.""They're using religion as a mask to act on their political motives and try to control people and cause all this mayhem," Abdul-Jabbar said.
"People have to understand that there are good Muslims that are on the side of what we understand to be the rule of law and just common sense and decency."
The NBA star is not the first Muslim to condemn Charlie Hebdo attacks.Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam.
Check OnIslam.net special coverage with the reactions from prominent Muslims worldwide. Check also reactions from eminent Muslim scholars on this barbaric incident.