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Congressman Says He’s Not ‘Anti-Islam’

WASHINGTON (RNS) A freshman congressman said he is “neither anti-Muslim nor anti-Islam” after religious leader criticized him for saying the first Muslim in Congress represents the “antithesis” of American values.
Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a prominent Tea Party freshman, on Wednesday (Feb. 2) defended his remarks directed at Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who in 2006 became the first Muslim member of Congress.
West said he wasn’t criticizing Ellison’s Muslim faith, but rather his support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its history of “supporting violent anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist organizations.”
“I am neither anti-Muslim nor anti-Islam,” West said in a letter to his critics. “I respect every religion, and the constitutionally protected right to practice that faith in a peaceful manner.”
In a recent interview with Shalom Show host Richard Peritz, West said Ellison represents “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established. You have to just be able to challenge each and every one of their assertions.”
Leaders from the Interfaith Alliance, The Rabbinical Assembly, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty had blasted West over those comments.
“Although your laudable decision to offer yourself for public service in no way disqualifies you from discussing your own faith, we urge you not to use the prestige of your position … to proselytize for one religion or demonize another,” the leaders said.
Ellison’s office was unavailable for comment, but CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said he was not surprised by the attacks on his organization.
“When you are in office and have a responsibility to your voters, which include Muslims, the inflammatory rhetoric that appealed to your base in the past becomes dangerous,” Hooper said.
West, a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, said he has worked with Muslims in the Middle East and at home, and “have known these people to be peaceful, patriotic Americans.”
Although the religious leaders asked West to apologize to Ellison and West’s own Muslim constituents, West’s response stopped short of an apology.
“It appears to me that you have the very same goals as I do,” West wrote back, “To keep our freedom intact and ensure that the foundations upon which this country was founded are never jeopardized.”

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    I believe Rep. West, that he is not a racist. I don’t think he actually believes what he is saying. At the risk of judging without really knowing the man, I suspect (based on his Tea Party affiliations) that he is simply a politically ambitious cynic who has quickly learned how to use demagogy to serve his own ends.

  • Your Name

    West may well believe “the first Muslim in Congress represents the “antithesis” of American values” – he’s free to believe what he wants in America – but it would behoove him to explain HOW a duly elected Congressman of another faith IS such the “antithesis” of “American values” (TM, all rights reserved).
    American values used to include a firm commitment to freedom of religion – for EVERYONE.
    Why does West hate freedom of religion for others so very, very much?

  • Kevin

    West is showing he is already a puppet of the Tea Party movement for making such comments, unless he really believes it himself. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Either way, it’s sad that he can’t stand on his own two feet and express what he believes, not what those who elected him believe. West should not sell his soul, his reputation, his self respect to ideologues.

  • jestrfyl

    Someone please throw a shoe at this knudnick! Preferably a rounded heel, scuffed toe loafer (O those metaphors). He may rperesent his district, but he does not represnt our state. My guess is they elected him to get him out of town.

  • Your Name

    Recently American scientists report a survey, shows that it is easier to increase weight for female when they do not get enough sleep at night.  
    This result from the project of relation between aged women’s sleep and health condition is that compared with the women who sleep 7 hours per night, the women who sleep less than 5 hours per night, their weight is easier to incrase. And during the period of the 16 years follow-up survey, their risk of obesity is higher than the former by 15%.
    Scientists involved this survey express that this fingding means a lot to against glycuresis and heart disease. They also analyse those women’s diet and health condition, but they can not explain why sleep less can cause weight increase. And they also find that the less the people sleep, the less they eat. Although those women often exercise less, but these figure still can not explain the result.
    Scientists think that diet and exercise have little effect on women who sleep less. And the convinced explanation is that less sleeping time can affect our basal metabolic, namely, the calories we consumes when we are rest.


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