Muslim player kicked off team after shooting baskets during national anthem

Rasool Samir, a former member of the Garden City (Kansas) Community College basketball team, believes he was kicked off the team for shooting baskets during the playing of the national anthem earlier this month.

Before Garden City's game on Nov. 1 Samir continued to shoot baskets during the playing of the national anthem and was confronted by a school booster, later identified as Jim Howard by the Garden City Telegram. The two had to be separated by a campus police officer.

"I've had enough of disrespecting our flag," Howard said. "I've been raising money for 32 years for this college, trying to help pay for scholarships for these kids. If they're not going to respect our flag, then they need to get off of our campus and out of Garden City.

"I wanted him off the court, and I wanted him out of this gym. If you're going to disrespect the flag, get out of here."

The ACLU of Kansas proclaimed on its website that Samir was not making a statement by protesting the anthem. Instead, Samir, a Muslim, chose not to stand for religious reasons, a practice he had maintained in previous games without incident.

Garden City Community College athletic director John Green initially said that Samir chose to leave the team but later informed KWCH in Wichita that Samir was removed because of a violation of team rules not related to the national anthem, but for conduct following the event. The ACLU was contacted by Samir regarding the incident, and the organization believes he was kicked off for not participating in the national anthem.

Samir later apologized, saying he didn't "mean any disrespect at all to the fans or the flag … I am truly sorry to anyone that felt disrespected, and I am also sorry to the school. I apologize for what happened."

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