Congressman Ellison

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Congressman Ellison

Congressman Ellison so far has proved himself to be a great American. His statements, his conversation has nothing but honoring and respecting every American on the land. His response to representative Goode and now, his choice to place his hand on the Qur’aan that was owned by Thomas Jefferson is a beautiful gesture of building bridges.

Congressman Ellison is the first Muslim Congressman to be elected to the United States Congress. He was elected by a landslide victory in his state. A few politicians are trying to take advantage of it by frightening people. I wish people can see clearly the motives of Congressman Goode and I sincerely hope he is acting out of ignorance and hope he can become enlightened for his own salvation and creating a better world around him.

Select articles listed below:

Dear Congressperson Ellison,

You have made us proud as Americans and as Muslims.
You said the right thing ” to close the gap of learning”.
Please give Mr. Goode the benefit of doubt, Insha Allah,
he may become your greatest ally

As ordinary humans, we have to be goodwill Ambassadors,
nothing beats goodwill, it mitigates ill will. Tit for Tat is not
the road to solutions, it is rather an aggravation highway.

May God bless you with extraordinary goodness, as you will
be scrutinized, and every word you say would be met with
skepticism. Please relax, we will not put you on a high pedestal
just be yourselves, be a good human and a good person,
that translates itself into being a Good Muslim.

Your choice to choose the Qur’aan owned by the founding
father of our nation, Thomas Jefferson is a great example
of building bridges.

We are with you and every one who is on the path of
goodwill and inclusiveness. May God guide you every step
of the way to honor every life he has created. Amen!

Jazak Allah Khair

Mike Ghouse


Reuters, 1/3/07

The first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, attacked for planning to use the Koran at his swearing-in instead of a Bible, will use a copy of the Muslim holy book once owned by Thomas Jefferson, an official said on Wednesday.Representative-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, requested the 18th century copy of the Koran for the unofficial part of his swearing in on Thursday, according to Mark Dimunation, chief of rare books and special collections at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Ellison, a Muslim convert who traces his U.S. ancestry to 1741, wanted a special copy of the book to use, Dimunation said, and approached the library for one.The third U.S. president, serving from 1801 to 1809, Jefferson was a collector with wide-ranging interests. His 6,000-volume library, the largest in North America at the time, became the basis for the Library of Congress.

Ellison, elected in November, initially came under attack in the blogosphere and by at least one conservative radio commentator after he said he would use the Koran in his unofficial ceremony.Members are sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives as a group with no Bibles or other books involved; but in a country where three out of every four people consider themselves Christians, the Bible has traditionally been used in ensuing unofficial ceremonies.These unofficial events among other things provide each member with a photo opportunity for themselves and their constituents.

Rep. Virgil Goode, a Virginia Republican who represents the area where Jefferson lived, was one of those who criticized Ellison for wanting to use the Koran, calling for strict immigration policies specially crafted to keep Muslims out of the United States.The English translation of the Koran from Jefferson’s collection dates to the 1750s. Jefferson sold his collection to the U.S. Congress after its library was lost when the British burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. Much of his collection was destroyed in an ensuing fire in 1851 but the Koran that Ellison will use survived, Dimunation said.

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post, 1/3/07

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he’d take his oath of office on the Koran — especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.Yet the holy book at tomorrow’s ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We’ve learned that the new congressman — in a savvy bit of political symbolism — will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.”He wanted to use a Koran that was special,” said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December.

Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison’s 5th District, was happy to help.Jefferson’s copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson’s collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn’t the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies — the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Ellison will take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers’ belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself,” said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert.

One person unlikely to be swayed by the book’s illustrious history is Goode, who released a letter two weeks ago objecting to Ellison’s use of the Koran. “I believe that the overwhelming majority of voters in my district would prefer the use of the Bible,” the Virginia Republican told Fox News, and then went on to warn about what he regards as the dangers of Muslims immigrating to the United States and Muslims gaining elective office.Yeah, but what about a Koran that belonged to one of the greatest Virginians in history? Goode, who represents Jefferson’s birthplace of Albemarle County, had no comment yesterday.

Muslim Congressman speaks out
By Kate Phillips
In an interview late this afternoon in CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, the incoming Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to the House of Representatives, talked about his reaction to the objections by Representative Virgil Goode, Republican of Virginia, to his election and decision to take his oath of office by swearing on the Koran.

Mr. Ellison: Well, what I’d tell him is that, you know, there might be a few things about Muslims that he might want to know. He might want to know that Muslims, there are about five million in the country, that they’re here to support and strengthen America, that they are nurses, doctors, husbands, wives, kids who just want to live and prosper in the American way, and that there’s really nothing to fear, and that all of us are steadfastly opposed to the same people he’s opposed to, which is the terrorists.And so there’s nothing for him to be afraid of, and that what we should do is to tell our constituents that we should reach to each other, not be against each other, and we should find ways for common ground.

I would urge Congressman Goode to have his congregation reach out to a synagogue or a mosque and start some interfaith dialogue so that we can increase understanding among each other, as Americans of different faiths. That’s what I’d tell him.Mr. Blitzer: Do you think he’s a bigot?Mr. Ellison: You know what? I don’t know the fellow. And, you know, I’d rather just say that he has a lot to learn about Islam. And, you know, we all have a lot to learn. I don’t know him. I look forward to meeting him. I’m not afraid of being frank about my views about him, but I simply haven’t gotten a chance to get to meet him so I don’t want to start any name calling.

Asked by Mr. Blitzer what he thought of the reaction to his election, and to his swearing-in preference, Mr. Ellison said: Well, Wolf, I’m glad you made that distinction because when I’m officially sworn in, I will do it the same, exact way as every Congressperson-elect who is sworn in. We will all stand up and, in unison, lift our hand and swear to uphold that Constitution.And then later, in a private ceremony, of course, I’ll put my hand on a book that is the basis of my faith, which is Islam. And I think that this is a beauty. This is a wonderful thing for our country, because Jewish members will put their hands on the Torah, Mormon members willput their hand on the Book of Mormon, Catholic members will put their hand on the book of their choice. And members who don’t want to put their hand on any book are also fully free to do that. That’s the American way.

But I think that we need to not focus on what religious text any Congress member might want to use. Let’s focus on the text that binds us together. That’s the Constitution. That’s a great document, and I’m looking forward very much to raising my hand and swear to uphold that Constitution.Mr. Blitzer: So when you hear comments like Virgil Goode’s, I suppose — you’ve reacted in all of your public statements, as well as here, really taking the high road, but I assume inside, it’s really irritating you.

Mr. Ellison: Well, Wolf, you know, my reaction, externally and internally is the same. I can honestly say that I’m not angered by Representative Goode’s comments. I just think it’s a learning gap we have to close. And he and Mr. Blitzer reminded everyone that Mr. Ellison was born in Michigan, converted to Islam in the 1970s while in college, and traced his ancestors back to Louisiana, from 1742

The Old News Items:
Congressman Criticized for Muslim Letter

Republican Congressman, in a Letter,
Says He Fears Election of Many More Muslims to Office

WASHINGTON Dec 20, 2006 (AP)— A Republican congressman has told constituents that unless immigration is tightened, “many more Muslims” will be elected and follow the lead of a recently elected lawmaker who plans to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in.

Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., made the comments in a letter sent earlier this month to hundreds of constituents who had written to him about Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress. Goode’s letter triggered angry responses from a New Jersey congressman and an Islamic civil rights group.

In the letter, Goode wrote, “The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”
Goode said the U.S. needs to stop illegal immigration “totally” and reduce legal immigration.

Goode added: “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.”

Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college. He did not return telephone messages left Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., wrote to Goode on Wednesday saying that he was “greatly disappointed and in fact startled” by Goode’s letter.

“I take your remarks as personally offensive to the large community of Muslim-Americans I represent in the Eighth District of New Jersey,” Pascrell wrote.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Goode to apologize.
“Representative Goode’s Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office,” CAIR’s national legislative director, Corey Saylor, said Tuesday night. “There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry.”

Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan said Wednesday that no apology was forthcoming.
“The only statement the congressman has is that he stands by the letter,” Duncan said.
The letter was made public by John Cruickshank, the chairman of the Piedmont group of the Sierra Club in central Virginia, who had received it after writing to Goode about environmental issues. Duncan said that Goode’s office had sent the letter to Cruickshank by mistake.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed


Urges Virginia representative to meet with Muslim communityContact: Caley Gray (202) 468-308112/20/06For Immediate ReleasePATERSON- U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today sent the following correspondence to U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA-05) expressing his disappointment in ethnically offensive remarks the Congressman wrote about the use of the Koran in U.S. Representative-elect Keith Ellison’s unofficial swearing-in ceremony to the House of Representatives.

Pascrell also expressed alarm in Congressman Goode wrongfully equating the issue of immigration with a fear of Muslim integration in our society.December 20, 2006Rep. Virgil Goode1520 Longworth BuildingWashington, DC 20515Dear Congressman Goode:I was greatly disappointed and in fact startled by your recent constituent letter addressing the issue of Representative-elect Keith Ellison using a Koran for his swearing-in ceremony. The United States Constitution is clear on this issue when its states in Article VI, section 3: “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Furthermore, as a returning Member of Congress you know that the official swearing-in for new Members of Congress is done without use of any religious text.

The use of any text including a Bible, Torah or Koran is done only in a ceremonial event after the Member has already taken an official oath of office. I have had the pleasure to meet Keith Ellison on a number of occasions and it is clear that his integrity and values will make him an outstanding Member of Congress for many years to come. Keith Ellison serves as a great example of Muslim-Americans in our nation and he does not have to answer to you, to me or anyone else in regards to questions about his faith.Your letter also wrongfully equates the issue of immigration with a fear of Muslim integration in our society.

I take your remarks as personally offensive to the large community of Muslim-Americans I represent in the Eighth District of New Jersey. I have learned a great deal from the Muslim community and have made it one of my priorities to educate other Americans about the common misconceptions regarding the peaceful faith of Islam. There are many valid policy questions regarding immigration that should be addressed by Congress, however promoting a fear and disrespect of Muslims is not only wrongheaded, but it is reckless. Muslim-Americans do not threaten our American values and traditions, in fact they only add to them.

The State of Virginia has a large vibrant Muslim population and I would hope you would take this opportunity to meet with that community and learn to dispel misconceptions instead of promoting them.Please accept my comments in good faith. Together I know we are committed to fighting extremism. Virgil, I trust that our “fight” will not be confused or misdirected to discriminate against any race, religion or ethnicity.Sincerely,Bill Pascrell, Jr.Member of Congress

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, called on Goode to apologize for the letter.”Representative Goode’s Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. “There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry.”Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan said no apology was forthcoming.”The only statement the congressman has is that he stands by the letter,” Duncan said.

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