A Muslim lawmaker enters the US Congress Commentary
A Muslim lawmaker enters the US Congress
Edited by: JURIST Commentator

Ali Khan [Washburn University]: " On January 4, 2006, Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) will make history by taking the oath of office as the first Muslim elected to the US House of Representatives. He has decided to take the oath on the Quran, the holy book of Islam.

January 4th should be a day of celebration for Americans as well as Muslims in the World. It should be a day of celebration for Americans because Ellison's election to the House affirms the openness, generosity, and vivacity of American democracy. It is a day of celebration for Muslims because a Muslim will now sit as a lawmaker and show to the world that America can be a friend and not an enemy of Islam. It must also be a day of celebration because it will challenge the warped ideologies of bigotry, prejudice, violence, and Islamophobia.

Unfortunately, some American opinion-makers doubt Ellison's loyalty to the United States Constitution, which states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Some make the catastrophic suggestion that Ellison should be forced to take the oath of office on the Bible. Dennis Prager, for example, objects to Ellison's taking the oath on the Quran by arguing: "I want Jews like myself to take the oath on the Bible, even though the New Testament is not our Bible." Some object to Ellison's relations with the American Muslim groups, such as the CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations). Gary Bauer, the architect of the advocacy group American Values, mentions these relations to surmise that Ellison would "vote against any kind of serious war against Islamofascism."

The 5th District of Minnesota has sent Keith Ellison to make laws for America. Ellison must discharge his office within the confines of the US Constitution. Ellison is a Muslim and has no intentions of trading his faith for political gains. He deserves to serve his term without harassment from groups who see America as their jaghir."

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