Following Colin Kaepernick's controversial protests at San Francisco 49ers' preseason games, rumors have started to emerge that the quarterback may have converted to Islam. In a recent interview, Kaepernick clarified these rumors and said that the scrutiny he is experiencing from the public is related to society's Islamophobia.
Kaepernick made headlines in August after he refused to stand up whenever the country's national anthem played during his team's preseason games. According to the athlete, his protest stems from the recent killings and gun violence cases perpetuated by law enforcers.
Due to his protests, he has been named as a traitor to the country. Some even said that his actions may have been influenced by his Muslim girlfriend Nessa Diab. Other said that the athlete converted to Islam before carrying out the protests.
Recently, Kaepernick confirmed that he did not convert to Islam and his protests are not related to any religion. However, he stressed that these rumors stem from people's fear of Muslims.
"I have great respect for the religion, know a lot of people that are Muslim and are phenomenal people," he said. "But I think that [rumor of conversion] comes along with people's fear of this protest, as well as Islamophobia in this country."
"People are terrified of them to the point where [Republican presidential nominee Donald] Trump wants to ban all Muslims from coming here, which is ridiculous," he added.
Kaepernick also cleared Diab's name from the recent rumors and controversies currently surrounding Muslims. The quarterback stressed that people should not be persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Kapernick is no longer alone in his protests against honoring the American flag or the country's national anthem. During the days following his activism, his teammate Eric Reid showed his support to Kaepernick by kneeling as the anthem played.
Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks also did the same thing during the team's game against the Oakland Raiders during the 2016 NFL preseason.
According to Kaepernick, he believes there are also other personalities in the league who would like to join the protests but avoid doing so due to the possible repercussions of their actions.
"I think there are a lot of players that feel the same way," he said. "They're just nervous about consequences that come with it and a lot of them have families to feed, and I think that's a tragic situation where players aren't comfortable speaking what's really on their mind and what's right because they're afraid of consequences that come along with it."