SAN FRANCISCO (CBSNewYork/AP)San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick told reporters Wednesday he’s not Muslim following online claims that he was converting to Islam after protesting the national anthem.

“I haven’t. I have great respect for the religion, know a lot of people that are Muslim and are phenomenal people,” Kaepernick said. “But I think that comes along with people’s fear of this protest as well as Islamophobia in this country. People are terrified of them to the point where [Donald] Trump wants to ban all Muslims from coming here, which is ridiculous.”

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According to, images began circulating where an Islamic symbol as photoshopped on a shirt Kaepernick was wearing, and Kaepernick’s face was placed over Osama bin Laden’s body.

The 49ers backup quarterback ignited a national firestorm after refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” during preseason games. Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the many reasons for his actions and said he plans to continue to not stand for the anthem during the regular season.

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Kaepernick also told reporters that his girlfriend Nessa Diab, who is Muslim, has been a very important part of his life.

“The impact is just conversations that we constantly have,” Kaepernick said, according to Pro Football Talk. “This is an open discussion that I have with many people, not just my woman. She is Muslim, her family is Muslim, I have great respect for them. I have great respect for people’s right to believe what they want to believe, and I don’t think anybody should be prosecuted or judged based on what their beliefs are.”

Kaepernick said on his Instagram account that he will donate all the money he receives from his jersey sales to charity to thank fans for their support. He said he’s pleased his 49ers jersey has become the top seller in the NFL since his protest became public.

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