Muhammad Ali Responds to Trump's Muslim Ban Proposal

"There is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people," the boxer said.

ByABC News
December 9, 2015, 6:30 PM

— -- Boxing legend Muhammad Ali released a statement Wednesday responding to Donald Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

"I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world," Ali said in the statement. "True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion."

Ali also asked Muslims to "stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda."

"I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is," he said.

The Republican presidential front-runner defended his proposal on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” Wednesday.

"This has nothing to do with religion; it’s about safety,” Trump told Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan.

Trump’s plan would temporarily block Muslims from entering the U.S., with the exception of U.S. citizens who are Muslim, who would be able to leave and enter the country as they wish.

“If a person is a Muslim, goes overseas and comes back, they can come back. They're a citizen. That's different,” Trump said on "Good Morning America" Tuesday. “But we have to figure things out.”

Critics of Trump have compared his plan to Japanese internment camps used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during WWII. Trump said Roosevelt's internment camps were more controversial and restrictive.

"This is a president highly respected by all, he did the same thing,” he said. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse. I mean, he was talking about the Germans because we're at war."

Trump also faces backlash overseas over his proposal. Less than 24 hours after Trump announced a trip to Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he “rejects” Trump's call for a "total and complete shutdown" ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

“The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued Wednesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Trump's proposal "divisive, unhelping and quite simply wrong,” his official spokesman said earlier this week. British citizens responded with a petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the U.K.

“The U.K. has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech,” the petition said. “The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the U.K.”

Robert Gordon University in Scotland responded to Trump's proposal by revoking an honorary degree awarded to him in 2010.

"In the course of the current U.S. election campaign, Mr. Trump has made a number of statements that are wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university. The university has therefore decided to revoke its award of the honorary degree," the university wrote on Facebook.