(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 3/20/2023) – The Philadelphia Chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) today called a disparaging remark about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Penn State Wrestling athlete Aaron Brooks on ESPN following his victory at the NCAA Wrestling tournament “unnecessary and inappropriate” and urged him to engage with his Muslim classmates.
In a post-victory interview with ESPN, Brooks attributed his success to his Christian faith, thanked Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit but then proceeded to say, “…no false prophets, no Muhammad or anyone else, only Jesus Christ himself…”
In a statement, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu said:
“We commend athletes who use interviews as an opportunity to thank God for their success. But it was both unnecessary and inappropriate for Aaron Brooks to randomly denigrate Islam while representing Penn State and its diverse student body on a national stage.
“We encourage ESPN and the NCAA to remove any social media posts that appear to celebrate or endorse the remarks that Mr. Brooks made. We encourage Mr. Brooks to meet with his Muslim classmates at Penn State to build bridges, exchange perspectives on religion, and learn how to respectfully disagree.
“Perhaps Mr. Brooks will also come to appreciate why nearly two billion people believe the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent to spread the same truth taught by Moses, Jesus and every other prophet: there is nothing worthy of worship but God alone, who is One and has no partner.”
In a statement posted on its social media platforms, Penn State Muslim Students Association (Penn State MSA) noted they respect Brooks personal religious beliefs and freedom of speech, they strongly oppose “this verbal attack against Islam and such a significant religious figure as the beloved Prophet, peace be upon him.”
The Penn State MSA noted they reached out to the Penn State administration, including President Neeli Bendapudi.
In a statement provided to CAIR- Philadelphia, the State College-based Islamic Society of Central Pennsylvania President Rami Alhellu said:
“The Islamic Society of Central PA will be happy to host Mr. Brooks and other Penn State Wrestling team members at our center for an exchange to provide a better understanding of our beautiful religion of Islam and to learn more about Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. We encourage and welcome Mr. Brooks to come to get to know the local Muslim community of State College as well.”
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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, PhD; 617-401-5397 (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org.