The NFL apologized Tuesday after Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized for praying in the end zone during Monday night’s game.
Abdullah, a devout Muslim, slid to his knees after running back an interception for a touchdown.
He was in a position called Sajdah, which means “prostration to God” in Arabic. The position involves having the forehead, nose, hands, knees, and toes touching the ground. He received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his action.
Ibrahim Hooper, director of communications for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), issued this statement Tuesday morning:
To prevent the appearance of a double standard, we urge league officials to clarify the policy on prayer and recognize that the official made a mistake in this case.
Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) of the NFL rulebook reads, in part: “Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.”
This rule does not apply to religious expression, though. NFL spokesman Michael Signora provided clarification in a tweet Tuesday:
Abdullah should not have been penalized. Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons.