With Presidential hopeful Donald Trump talking about a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., Muslims in Congress (both of them) are responding. Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota and Representative Andre Carson, from Indiana, both spoke this week to condemn the proposal as unAmerican, to call for tolerance, and to speak about hope.
On Wednesday, according to the Washington Post, Ellison (who became a Muslim at age 19 and was elected to Congress in 2006) made appearances to call for Americans to stand up against anti-Muslim rhetoric. He says that terrorism is antithetical to his understanding of Islam, and that he can’t fathom how these ideologies can arise.
It just goes to prove that people can distort anything.
On Thursday, Carson (who was also introduced to Islam as a young man, and who was elected to Congress in 2008) made appearances, saying, according to IndyStar, that Americans should be speaking out, but not only for Muslims.
This goes beyond speaking out for Muslims. This is about speaking out against Islamophobia but also homophobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric and so much else. What history has taught us, I think, is that we have to speak out against injustices.
Ellison had posted a statement on Facebook a few days before, addressing Donald Trump’s proposals.
The President is supposed to bring everyone together, not divide through hateful rhetoric and fear mongering about an entire religion.
The fact that Donald Trump is leading in the Republican Presidential primary polls should raise deep concerns about where Republicans want to lead our country.
In another Facebook post, Ellison responded to statements by Representative Steve King, of Iowa, who says that Muslims cannot assimilate into American culture.
He could not be more wrong. Muslims are very much a part of the fabric of this country, and they always have been.
Andre Carson also addressed anti-Muslim sentiments on social media, in a pair of tweets that declare that Trump lacks the judgment to be president, and that the statement was asinine.
Ellison, who prays five times per day at work, does so in his private office, and told the Washington Post that he doesn’t want to be a spokesperson for Islam at work, and that speaking on television about his faith as a Muslim was difficult for him — but that when his beliefs are under attack, he doesn’t feel he has a choice.
Similarly, Carson told the New York Times that his prayer is done in private, and chose not to elaborate on how he prays, or in what other ways he is observant.
Both of the men have faced threats since becoming members of Congress, the most recent to Andre Carson this week, according to USA Today. Carson says that the threat is largely due to harsh rhetoric about Muslims that has been so common over the past weeks.
Meanwhile, Trump is doubling down. Citing a CNN report that Isis may be forging passports, Trump declared, “I told you so!”
Ellison, at least, finds hope in Trump’s words, though — he says the proposal shows weakness and fear, and a lack of confidence — that the level of desperation in the idea gives him hope, suggesting it can’t succeed.
Both American Muslims in Congress, working for the people of the United States, in denouncing Trump’s statements, chose to do so in the most positive manner possible, and to call for more peace and tolerance, setting an example in stark contrast to the words to which they are responding.
[Photo by Winn McNamee/Getty Images]