Muslim NFL player Mohamed Sanu declined to opine on president Donald Trump’s travel ban of seven predominately Muslim countries when quizzed on the matter at Super Bowl Opening Night.
The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots have arrived in Houston for American football’s 51st showpiece event this weekend, but there is no escaping the political landscape in the country as Trump continues to make waves after assuming office earlier this month.
Last week he enforced an order that barred refugees and citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Sudan from entering America, a situation that has sparked protests across the States, including at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where the two franchises arrived over Sunday and Monday.
Sanu spent time growing up in Sierra Leone, not a country on that list, but the fact the prominent Atlanta Falcons receiver is the only practising Muslim who will play at NRG Stadium this weekend meant he garnered plenty of interest during the first round of media availability on Monday night.
“That’s a very tough situation,” the 27-year-old said of the immigration ban. “I just pray that us as a country and a world can just be united as one. It’s really hard for me to talk about this now, it would take a lot of time, so I just want to focus on the game and just talk about football.
“I’m not really here to talk about that right now, I’m more focused on the game. At another time, maybe, but not right now.
“I’m just going to go out there and play for my team-mates, my brothers, my family and everybody else that I’m representing. I can’t really think about that now, I’ve just got to focus on the game and give all I can for my team-mates.”
Sanu revealed his mother is due to arrive from Sierra Leone on Wednesday, though stressed his concerns about her arrival were more based on long-haul plane travel than anything else.
And as the questions continued to arrive about the biggest issue in America, Sanu reiterated that he did not see this major stage as a platform to offer his religious and political viewpoint.
My name’s Mohamed, a lot of people know I’m Muslim, but I’m here because of my football talents, not because I’m Muslim
“My name’s Mohamed, a lot of people know I’m Muslim, but I’m here because of my football talents, not because I’m Muslim,” he added.
“I’m here to talk about football so if you guys are going to continue to ask me about my religious beliefs then I’m going to continue to tell you the same thing.
“I’m here to talk about football. I respect all of you guys, I have tremendous love for all of you guys, but I’m here to talk about football and playing against the Patriots.”
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