Just when you thought we have seen the worst manifestation of Islamophobia, ignorance, and divisiveness, someone surprises us by stooping lower. Right-wing radio commentator Dennis Prager, who is not a stranger to controversy, is demanding that a Muslim who is newly elected to Congress should not be allowed to use the Quran, but rather be forced to use the Bible to take his oath of office.
Despite the fact that the swearing ceremony of new members of Congress does not involve any scriptures or books (we will have to forgive Prager on this since bigots are not famous for being very smart or educated), the issue just shows that right-wing nuts will go to any extent in order to undermine and curtail the freedoms in our country, of course, all in the name of defending those freedoms! Go figure.
No, Mr. Prager, America is not a Christian country, nor a Jewish one, nor a Muslim one. It is a country that protects the right of all its citizens to practice any religion or no religion, if that matters. I suggest that you read our Constitution and especially the First Amendment to it to learn about what America stands for.
Long live our freedom of religion. And long live our freedom of expression which allows bigots like Prager to expose themselves.
God Bless America.
Newly elected Muslim lawmaker under fire
By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON Â The first Muslim elected to Congress hasn't been sworn into office yet, but his act of allegiance has already been criticized by a conservative commentator.
In a column posted Tuesday on the conservative website Townhall.com, Dennis Prager blasted Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison's decision to take the oath of office Jan. 4 with his hand on a Quran, the Muslim holy book.
"He should not be allowed to do so," Prager wrote, "not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American culture."
He said Ellison, a convert from Catholicism, should swear on a Christian Bible Â which "America holds as its holiest book. Â
If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress." ...
Dave Colling, Ellison's spokesman, said he was unavailable for comment. Earlier, Ellison told the online Minnesota Monitor, "The Constitution guarantees for everyone to take the oath of office on whichever book they prefer. And that's what the freedom of religion is all about." ...
"Requiring somebody to take an oath of office on a religious text that's not his" violates the Constitution, said Kevin Hasson, president of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Members of the House of Representatives traditionally raise their right hands and are sworn in together on the floor of the chamber. The ritual sometimes seen as the swearing-in is actually a ceremonial photo op with the speaker of the House that usually involves a Bible.
"They can bring in whatever they want," says Fred Beuttler, deputy historian of the House.
Prager, who is Jewish, wrote that no Mormon elected official has "demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon." But Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, carried a volume of Mormon scriptures that included the Bible and the Book of Mormon at his swearing-in ceremony in 1997...
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html