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Home --> Rumors of War --> Thanks for Sharing

Thanks for Sharing

Claim:   Muhammad Ali offered a pithy quote about religion while visiting the World Trade Center site.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2001]

Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali visited the ruins of the World Trade Center on Thursday. When reporters asked how he felt about the suspects sharing his Islamic faith, Ali responded pleasantly, "How do you feel about Hitler sharing yours?"

Origins:   In short, former heavyweight champion boxer Muhammad Ali did pay a visit to New York City on September 20, and while there he did offer some comments on Islam (his own faith) to reporters:
[Colangelo, 2001]

"What's really hurting me, the name Islam is involved, and Muslim is involved and causing trouble and starting hate and violence," Ali said during a rare, impromptu speech at the World Trade Center attack command center.

"Islam is not a killer religion," said Ali, who has suffered with Parkinson's disease since 1984 and hasn't spoken at length in public in years. "Islam means peace," he said. "I couldn't just sit home and watch people label Muslims as the reason for this problem."

But Ali said he would back "100%" whatever action the United States takes against the perpetrators of last week's terrorist attack.

Those people, he said, are not followers of Islam.



[CNN, 2001]

Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali visited the ruins of the World Trade Center on Thursday. When reporters asked how he felt about the suspects sharing his Islamic faith, Ali said, "Religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths," adding, "I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things."
That's it, however. The quip about religion sounds like something the public would expect the pithy and pugnacious Ali (a long-time adherent and defender of Islam) to make, but although he supposedly said it in the presence of reporters, none of them seems to have written about it afterwards. Instead, this quote began circulating on the Internet, and then, weeks after Ali allegedly said it, newspapers started mentioning it — not as something one of their (or anyone else's) reporters had actually heard Ali say, but as something they had been told he said:
[Akhar, 2001]

A friend sent an e-mail which related an unsubstantiated story about former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali visiting the ruins of the World Trade Center just days after the attack.

When reporters asked how he felt about the suspects sharing his Islamic faith, Ali responded pleasantly:

"How do you feel about Hitler sharing yours?"
This sounds to us like a typical case of someone's attributing an anonymous quote to the mouth deemed most likely to have uttered it.

As a footnote, we should point out that the issue of whether or not Hitler was a believing Christian has been long debated.

Last updated:   7 March 2008

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2014 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
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  Sources Sources:
    Akmar, Shamsul.   "West and Islam, Never the Twain Shall Meet."
    [Malaysia] Business Times.   11 October 2001   (p. 6).

    Colangelo, Lisa L. and Clem Richardson.   "Muhammad Ali Defends His Religion."
    [New York] Daily News.   21 September 2001   (p. 34).

    Kugler, Sara.   "Celebrities, Politicians Flock to Trade Center Wreckage."
    Associated Press.   5 October 2001.

    Reddy, C. Rammanohar.   "Voices after September 11."
    The Hindu Financial Times.   7 October 2001.

    The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.   "Quotes from the Crisis."
    23 September 2001 &nbps (p. E2).

    CNN.com.   "Bush: 'Justice Will Be Done.'"
    20 September 2001.

    [Melbourne] Herald Sun.   "Your Say."
    15 October 2001 &nbps (p. 16).