Friday, September 18, 2009
The nation's first Muslim congressman will speak in Riverside on Sunday during prayers for Eid ul-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., will attend Eid prayer services at the Riverside Convention Center and make brief remarks. The annual event last year attracted several thousand people...
Ellison said his Eid speech will focus on Ramadan's message of compassion and humility and the duty of Muslims to make life better for people of all faiths. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006 in an overwhelmingly non-Muslim district and re-elected in 2008 with 71 percent of the vote. A second Muslim congressman was elected in Indianapolis last year.
Ellison said his election illustrates that most Americans try to treat Muslims with respect...
"And you just have to argue to people that that's not really the case, that America is a country of immigrants and has been all of its existence and yet our standard of living has only been increasing, and that we've been doing better, not worse, because of new people in our community," Ellison said.
You can show it to people through the evidence but it's not always easy, because you have a lot of people on radio and TV banking on people's fears and making them feel like they ought to kick somebody off the island or push somebody off the bus."
Ellison's election has been used by American officials to show foreign Muslims that the country is not hostile to Islam. President Barack Obama referred to Ellison's use of the Quran to take the oath of office in a June speech in Cairo that was designed to strengthen U.S. relations with the world's Muslims.
Corona's Hussam Ayloush, who will deliver Sunday's Eid sermon, said Ellison is a source of inspiration and hope for Muslims, especially those who believe they are treated as second-class citizens.
"He's living proof that once people get to know Muslims, they can have friendship, respect and partnership with them on all matters that bring benefit to people in our country," said Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It reassures American Muslims they are ... equal citizens in their own country."