Muhammad Ali Hits Trump, Defends Islam

CREDIT: Jeff Chiu, AP

Donald Trump, left, accepts his Muhammad Ali award from Ali at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIII in Phoenix, Ariz., Saturday, March 24, 2007. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

In a short but stinging statement, Muhammad Ali spoke out against Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims entering the United States, jihadists and the spike in Islamophobia following recent terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.

“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” Ali said in a statement to NBC Nightly News on Wednesday. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”

While Ali’s release didn’t mention Trump by name its headline is “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States.”

“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” Ali said in the message.

The fighter’s statement was released just days after Trump questioned the existence of Muslim sports heroes in America, despite the fact that he has met Ali — who has been very outspoken about his faith since converting to Islam in 1965 — on numerous occasions. In fact, in 2007, Trump was even presented with a Muhammad Ali Award at a charity event hosted by The Greatest himself.

While some Republican candidates have distanced themselves from Trump’s proposal, anti-Muslim sentiment has been pervasive among Republican candidates this election cycle. There has been an increase in violence against Muslims in the United States since the ISIS attacks in Paris last month.

“We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” Ali said. “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”