Category Archives: Keith Ellison

Iftar at the White House

As I mentioned earlier today, Barack Obama hosted an Iftar at the White House tonight.

The guest list for the event included Diplomats from Muslim countries, Muslim leaders from around the country and Muslims from many walks of life among others. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana) was at the event but the other Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) was not present. I suggested earlier in the evening that it might have had something to do with his recent comments regarding Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The Congressman took offense to that comment. Late tonight I received a series of messages from him via twitter. The gist of it was that he’s in California with Speaker Pelosi. The tweets read as follows:

I am with Speaker Pelosi at her Annual Issues conference.

Very irresponsible rumor. Very unbecoming of a Muslim or any person of integrity to spread such a baseless rumor. Please stop 

Tell anyone who cares to know that there is no conflict with the WH and I. I am with the Speaker in Napa, CA.

The intentions of my comments earlier were obviously not to take a shot at Rep. Ellison. I’ve liked his work for the most part. I like his stance on issues. We definitely need more Muslims not only in Congress but in politics in general. That being said, his absence from the event at the White House tonight was very odd. Anyone who follows politics even remotely would connect it to his comments about Robert Gibbs. It has nothing to do with me being a good or bad Muslim. This “Issues Conference” is probably a private retreat of Democratic Congressmen but a quick Google search didn’t turn up anything linking the Congressman to California. There was no statement made by his office either. There wasn’t a Press Release, an update on his blog or a message on his twitter account. There are only 2 Muslim Congressmen, if one wasn’t making it to the Iftar you’d figure they’d mention it somewhere right? Hopefully all is fine between him and the White House (I’ll take him at his word) but his reaction tonight disappointed not only me but others I spoke to.

I should mention that Rep. Ellison has said since that he does not want Robert Gibbs dismissed.

I would have liked to see Rep. Ellison in attendance since he too has been a very vocal supporter of the Mosque in Lower Manhattan.

I mentioned to a few people earlier today that the events seemed much more low key this year (coincidence that it is an election year?). Last year we saw a video statement marking the start of Ramadan but this year the White House only released a written statement. The President did throw people like me a bone though by coming through with the strongest worded support to date of the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” by the administration. It is a shame that it was part of a Friday evening news dump.

You can watch Obama’s remarks here.


Good work from the President here. It is a balancing act that he has to follow but the remarks do still come off as genuine.

Here is the guest list for the Iftar. I asked earlier but will ask again, what do I have to do to be on the guest list next year?
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First Muslim elected to Congress

First Muslim elected to Congress

Minn. Democrat converted in college, was once with Nation of Islam
Reuters
Updated: 10:25 p.m. ET Nov 7, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS – Voters elected a black Democrat as the first Muslim in Congress on Tuesday after a race in which he advocated quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and made little mention of his faith.
Keith Ellison, a 43-year-old lawyer and state representative, was projected to defeat two rivals to succeed retiring Democrat Martin Sabo in a seat that has been held by Democrats since 1963.
Ellison, who converted to Islam as a 19-year-old college student in his native Detroit, won with the help of Muslims among a coalition of liberal, anti-war voters.
He advocates an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq along with strongly liberal views. While Ellison did not often speak of his faith during the campaign, awareness of his candidacy drew interest from Muslims well beyond the district centered in Minneapolis.
A significant community of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis cast their first votes for him in the crowded September primary. Ellison also was the surprise choice of party regulars.
While Muslim Americans make up less than 3 percent of the U.S. population and have largely been a non-factor in terms of political power, get-out-the-vote efforts in several Muslim communities could indicate they may become an emerging force.
Roughly 2 million Muslims are registered U.S. voters, and their ranks increased by tens of thousands in the weeks prior to Tuesday’s mid-term elections, Muslim groups have said.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Islamic militants, Muslim Americans have become sensitized to what many feel is an erosion of their civil rights. U.S. foreign policy that targets Muslim countries also has generated a sense of urgency, experts said.
“(Americans) treat us differently after Sept. 11. My own father was attacked,” said Ellison supporter Khadra Darsame, a 1995 immigrant from Somalia. “Ellison said everybody matters equally and he told us what he would do … he will do the right thing.”
Born into a Roman Catholic family in Detroit, Ellison said his values were shaped by both faiths, along with his grandfather’s civil rights work in the Deep South.
Opponents focused on Ellison’s sloppy handling of his taxes and a slew of unpaid parking tickets, along with his one-time affiliation with the Nation of Islam, whose leader, Louis Farrakhan, has been criticized for making anti-Semitic remarks. Ellison subsequently said he worked with the group largely to promote the 1995 Million Man March.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15613050/

60 Minutes - Two Heartbeats (October 22, 2006)