Press Releases

CAIR Asks NFL to Clarify Policy After Prayer Penalty for Muslim Player

Abdullah-sajda(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/30/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the NFL to clarify its policies after Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah received a penalty for bowing in prayer (sajdah) following a 39-yard interception return in Monday night's win over the New England Patriots.

[UPDATE: The NFL now says “Abdullah should not have been penalized. Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons.” Source]

NFL rules state that “players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.” There is an exception made for religious expressions, such as Tim Tebow's prayer while kneeling. Some commentators say Abdullah may have broken the rule by sliding on both knees into the prayer.

SEE: Referees Flag Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah for Celebration Penalty after Slide and Prayer in Endzone
Chiefs Safety Husain Abdullah Penalized for Post-Touchdown Prayer

“To prevent the appearance of a double standard, we urge league officials to clarify the policy on prayer and recognize that the official made a mistake in this case,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171,

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