Muslim Football Team Names Spark Controversy in CA

December 7, 2003

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,4250723.story

On December 7, 2003 The Los Angeles Times reported on the ongoing controversy over Muslim football team names in Orange County. The Muslim team names include terms such as "Intifadah" and "Muhajadeen", which many Jewish leaders have deemed offensive. The teams also posted a website at: featuring logos of masked men, some with daggers or swords. The Times reports, "In the post-Sept. 11 era, the idea that American-born Muslims in suburbia would give their football teams militant names hurts the image of Islam in the United States, interfaith leaders say. And it doesn't matter whether the reasons for the choices are youthful zeal, football machismo, family connections to the Middle East or religious convictions. 'I think they spoil [a good thing] by politicizing it,' said retired Rabbi Bernie King, who lives in Irvine. 'Something like this undermines [those working with Muslims] and tends to support those in the community who have suspicions about the real intent of Islam.' But one Islamic scholar said she wonders why the team names should be controversial. 'Who cares? Why are people so sensitive?' said Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, a professor at Georgetown University. 'Intifada is something that Muslims and Palestinians all approve of. It means 'just get off my back.' 'Is the only way we accept [Muslims] is if we devalue their faith?' Shawky and Sabih Khan, 18, organized the eight-team tournament as a way to strengthen ties among young American Muslims who often feel isolated by their minority faith and background. Islamic youths in the U.S. have played in other Muslim-only sports events, such as basketball and soccer. But the embrace of football, that most exclusively American of sports, shows the steady assimilation of the second-generation of Muslim immigrants."