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Nets’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson feels the pain of U.S. 'Muslim ban'

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets puts up

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets puts up a shot in the first half against Gerald Henderson of the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

MINNEAPOLIS — Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson grew up in the working-class town of Chester, Pennsylvania, just south of Philadelphia, but he was raised as a Muslim. So, newly elected President Donald Trump’s decision on Friday to sign an executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries — covering more than 130 million people — from entering the United States hit him hard as it became clear that Muslims trying to enter the country are being detained.

“Me being Muslim, me knowing a lot of Muslims, it’s definitely heartbreaking to see,” Hollis-Jefferson said before the Nets faced the Timberwolves Saturday night at Target Center. “A lot of my college friends are Muslims, and their families are in some of those countries. My heart goes out to them. It’s definitely a tough situation to put people in.”

A federal court temporarily blocked part of Trump’s ban Saturday night.

Critics have charged the new administration with discriminating against ethnic and religious groups in a way that breaks with American tradition, while proponents of the so-called Muslim ban cite it as a means of fighting terrorism. “We try to teach people not to point the finger,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “You can’t judge a whole group by one’s actions. That’s definitely not right. You can’t speak for all Muslims because all Muslims’ hearts aren’t like that.”

Struggling to choke back his emotions, Hollis-Jefferson added, “This is kind of touching just being a part of that community and a part of that family. I feel more people should definitely speak up and act on it because it’s b.s.”

Asked if he senses growing fear within the Muslim community under the new president, Hollis-Jefferson said, “I believe so because, again, I feel like he’s targeting people and singling people out. This group of people may feel like, ‘Why are you doing this to me? My family is there.’

“Him making that decision is like a big step, super-big. It definitely affects millions of people, even ones that aren’t Muslim. It’s just sad to see.”

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