Congressman Keith Ellison, speaking to a gathering of atheists, said "You'll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists," according to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "Atheists applaud Ellison's views on Cheney, Libby, 9/11"
So far, so good. The freedom to believe, or not believe, what you want is an important part of the freedom we enjoy in the States.
Congressman Ellison also said something that I don't think is helpful in Islamic/non-Islamic relations.
A direct quote from the Star-Tribune article would, I think, be better than my paraphrase.
"On comparing Sept. 11 to the burning of the Reichstag building in Nazi Germany: 'It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you.' "While Congressman Ellison did a fine job of implying that the U.S. blew up the Twin Towers without actually saying that this was the case, his meaning is quite clear.
I applaud Congressman Ellison's technical skill as a communicator, but believe that his remarks will, in the long run, not help the average non-Muslim see those of his faith in a positive light.
Keith Ellison posts:
- Keith Ellison, Iraqi Sheikhs, and Islam's Image (August 3, 2007)
- This Keith Ellison Story Might Take Off (July 27, 2007)
- Congressman Keith Ellison and Islam (July 22, 2007)
- Rep. Ellison's Misconstrued Reichstag Remarks (July 17, 2007)
- There's a New Loon in Minnesota (July 16, 2007)
- Another Islamic Voice in the Debate (July 16, 2007)
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.