In a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Wednesday, the former boxing champion says that political leaders need to use their influence to “bring understanding about the religion.”
“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” Ali says in his statement. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”
Ali does acknowledge that “these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” but also adds that Muslims play a role in preventing the “advance [of] personal agendas,” veiled in the name of Islam.
“We have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” the statement reads. “The have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”
Despite Ali’s comments in response to Trump’s release, the GOP frontrunner said on Tuesday that he had “no regrets” about his controversial proposal. In fact, Trump told CNN‘s Don Lemon on Wednesday that his Muslim friends think his idea is “brilliant.”
“I’m doing good for the Muslims,” the republican presidential candidate said. “Many Muslim friends of mine are in agreement with me. They say, ‘Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.”
Ali’s response to Trump is a far cry from Sarah Palin‘s lengthy show of support on the same day. The former Alaska governor took to Facebook on Wednesday sharing her thought on Trump’s release, making herself one of the first to publicly endorse his idea.
“Trump’s temporary ban proposal is in the context of doing all we can to force the Feds to acknowledge their lack of strategy to deal with terrorism,” she wrote. “I said it back in 2009 and got beat up by the Left, but understood by the commonsense Right, and I’ll say it again: ‘if it saves innocent lives, ‘profile away!””
Regardless of the melee surrounding his recent comments, Trump isn’t budging on his position, and said in his CNN interview that one of the most powerful people in the Middle East agree with what he’s doing, adding that he received a phone call on Wednesday in which they told him “Donald, you’re doing a great service.”
“I have many friend who are Muslims,” he continued. “They’re phenomenal people. They are so happy at what I’m doing. I love the Middle East. I love the people of the Middle East.”