7 June 2016

Muhammad Ali's sacred communication

The Blog

Following the iconic African American sportsman's recent passing on 3 June, Garrison Center director Thomas Knapp draws our attention to Muhammad Ali's days as a conscientious objector and anti-war campaigner.

Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused the draft three times in 1967, and is known to have declared his sympathy with the victims of the US state's war crimes in Vietnam, saying "I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong — no Viet Cong ever called me nigger".

Without the stand Ali took against the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr. would probably not have come out with the same view, inspired by the former's courage. And without that, the superpower might not have been so pressured to withdraw from its misguided wars.

Ali's legacy has already reached far beyond his own time and beyond America itself. Admired by many people across the globe, Ali's international popularity will still symbolize what Frantz Fanon meant when he mentioned an "illuminating and sacred communication" between all oppressed and colonized people. Here we see how virtue can transcend one's time and one's country. Ali's life offers a certain story of resistance and victory that will continue to inspire all people - but perhaps Muslims most of all - against imperialism, hegemony and injustice.

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