BY RYAN PARKER
LOS ANGELES TIMES (MCT)
Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was flagged during Monday night’s game after he kneeled for a Muslim prayer after returning an interception for a touchdown.
Abdullah, a practicing Muslim, was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct after the pick-six during the Chiefs 41-14 rout of the New England Patriots in Kansas City.
Tuesday morning, the league said the penalty should not have been issued.
“Abdullah should not have been penalized. Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons,” said Michael Signora, vice president of communications for the NFL.
The penalty stirred controversy on social media, many saying Christian players are not penalized when they make religious gestures after a scoring play.
“Brandon Marshall gets on knees & raises hands to Jesus after TD..No penalty..Husain Abdullah bows to Mecca..15 yards!,” Arsalan Ifikhar, a international human rights lawyer and author, posted on Twitter.
The referee said Abdullah’s penalty stemmed from him “falling to the ground on the knees.”
After the game, there were reports that Abdullah said he believed he was flagged for sliding into the prayer.
Abdullah’s name began trending on Twitter on Tuesday morning.