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Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Muslim Footballers Sue New Mexico State for Religious Discrimination

My colleague Howard Friedman's Religion Clause reports that three Muslim students dismissed from the New Mexico State football team have sued the school and coach for religious discrimination. The students are represented by the ACLU. As Howard explains,
The suit, filed on behalf of Mu'Ammar Ali, Anthony Thompson and Vincent Thompson by the ACLU of New Mexico, alleges that Mumme made Muslim students feel like outcasts, questioning Ali about his attitudes toward al-Qaida. Coach Mumme had other players recite the Lord's Prayer after practices and before each game, but made Muslim players pray separately. A University investigation of the charges found no evidence of religious discrimination.
While forced recitation of the Lord's Prayer (or any prayer) before a game is objectionable, cases like this face an uphill battle. Part and parcel of the American idea of football coaching is the paradigm of coach-as-tormentor. Comments that might be insulting, or even actionable, in a normal setting, are commonplace and expected in the post-game locker room.


Some things to mention. Last year Ali's father, Mustafa, was quoted in a newspaper saying Ali was booted because of comments made by Muammar and Mustafa on, the NMSU fan message board.

Later, the story changed to religion. NMSU hired a firm to investigate and found nothing. One article in the newspaper said players had asked Mumme if players could lead a prayer session.

As for the twin midgets, NMSU moved from the Sun Belt Conference to the WAC last year. They had a bad team in the Sun Belt (the worst D-1 football conference in the country) and had to get rid of a number of guys to open up roster spots for better talent. I'm pretty sure the twins were walk-ons also, which means they were walk-ons for a Sun Belt program. Should be no surprise they were released, along with a number of other players of unknown religions.

Mumme and staff are paid to win games. That's the bottom line. At NMSU, coaches can not afford to cut talented players b/c the team has almost no depth. There's more to the story.

Anonymous cj -- 8/29/2006 12:32 PM  

Ali starred at Wood High School in Vacaville, CA where he lettered three years... played in the North-South Shrine Game and East/West All-Star Game... named a Super Prep All-American and Prep Star All-American... earned All- Region, All-County and All-Bay Area as a senior... also lettered twice in track... named the 13th best high school athlete on the west coast by

Anonymous Mr.Rehab -- 8/29/2006 2:55 PM  

It's all about the "bling". And the ACLU is all too happy to help.

Blogger BLAZER PROPHET -- 8/30/2006 2:21 PM  

All those accolades and he went to New Mexico State...and got cut. It sounds like he might have some trouble with stuff other that football then; attitude, conduct off of the field, etc.

Blogger WMUpsci_student -- 8/31/2006 12:00 AM  

This case is going nowhere. Trust me.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/31/2006 6:57 AM  

Well I guess the debate is over. "anonymous 6:57" has spoken.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/31/2006 10:04 AM  

Since when does the "American idea of football" determine when conduct is or is not discriminatory? And since when does the "idea of football" create an exception for what would be actionable conduct by any other university prof or administrator? While harsh comments regarding one's performance may be expected when participating in a sport, hate speech and deliberate discrimination based on religion is not.

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