SBD/14/Leagues Governing Bodies

NBA STANDS FIRM ON ABDUL-RAUF SUSPENSION

     There was no meeting between suspended Nuggets guard Mahmoud
Abdul-Rauf and NBA officials yesterday, as reported. Instead, the
league reiterated its position on suspending Abdul-Rauf
indefinitely over his refusal to stand for the national anthem,
while Abdul-Rauf released a statement clarifying his position
(Mult., 3/14).  This morning's DENVER POST quotes one Abdul-Rauf
"confidant," who says, "The statement may have been step one.
And I look for step two to happen today.  I think he will say
something that will get him back to playing basketball."  Should
he comply, "it may be because he was convinced to change his
position by other prominent Muslims" (DENVER POST, 3/14).
     UNION REAX:  The NBPA will file a grievance against the NBA
over Abdul-Rauf's suspension, according to the N.Y. DAILY NEWS.
NBPA Acting Exec Dir Alex English: "The rule the league relies on
was not agreed to in collective bargaining, but was imposed by
the league unilaterally in an operations manual without any input
from the players" (Curtis Bunn, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/14).  More
from English:  "I feel that the action the NBA took was a little
premature and a bit strong.  We could have dealt with it in a
different way" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/13).
     ANOTHER MUSLIM PLAYER WEIGHS IN:  Hakeem Olajuwon disagreed
with Abdul-Rauf's interpretation of the Koran in regards to
nationalism.  Olajuwon:  "In general, Islamic teachings require
every Muslim to obey and respect the law of the countries they
live in. ... Islamic teachings is to worship none but God, but
you respect the flag.  You respect and honor America.  That is
what is distinguished, between worshipping and respect" (HOUSTON
CHRONICLE, 3/14).
     OTHER MUSLIM REAX:  Howard Univ.'s Sulayman Nyang:  "The
mainstream scholars are clear that you honor the country you are
in, as long as the country protects you" (Larry Witham,
WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/14).  Colorado Muslim Council's Mohamad
Jodeh:  "Where he gets the interpretation not to stand, I don't
know" ("World News," ABC, 3/14).
     LEGAL ISSUES:  Asked if the case is a freedom of religion
case, Duke Law Prof. John Weistart notes the constitution does
not apply because the government is not involved.  Weistart said
league-union relations is the "forum" in which the matter should
be resolved because it allows the matter to be talked over in a
"private, non-public way" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/13).  Attorney
Kevin Baine, of Williams & Connolly, said Title 7 of the Civil
Rights Act is the pertinent statute, not the First Amendment.
The "significant question," according to Baine, "is whether the
NBA is unable to reasonably accommodate Abdul-Rauf's religious
beliefs without undue hardship" (Ken Denlinger, WASHINGTON POST,
3/14).
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