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Ellison: Islam is his guide

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    ELLISON SAYS FAITH WON T BE EXPLOITED But Islam is a guide, congressman says NIRAJ WARIKOO Detroit Free Press 12/28/06
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2007
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      But Islam is a guide, congressman says
      Detroit Free Press

      Rep.-elect Keith Ellison plans to use the Quran to be sworn in.
      The first Muslim elected to Congress told a group of metro Detroiters
      on Wednesday that he will use Islam to guide his politics, but he said
      he won't impose his faith on others.

      "I'm not a religious leader, I've never led religious services of any
      kind. ..." Keith Ellison said. "I'm not here to be a preacher, but in
      terms of political agenda items, my faith informs these things."

      Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who grew up in Detroit, has faced a lot
      of scrutiny since his election in November.

      He has come under fire for saying he will use the Quran, Islam's holy
      book, for his swearing-in ceremony Jan. 4. U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode,
      R-Va., has said the election of Ellison, and possibly other Muslims,
      poses a danger to America.

      And Ellison was criticized this week for his appearance Sunday in
      Dearborn at the annual convention of the Muslim American Society.

      On Wednesday, he spoke at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Detroit
      with Arab-American, Muslim, Catholic and labor leaders at a meeting
      sponsored by Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength, or
      MOSES, a faith-based group in Detroit.

      Ellison said he gets about 300 to 400 e-mails every few days regarding
      the Quran issue, but he said he will not change his mind.

      "I'm a little incredulous about why anyone would care about what I'm
      going to swear on," he said. "In fact, if I swore on a book that
      wasn't of my tradition ... would you trust me?"

      The controversy, Ellison said, "seems to resonate with some people.
      People feel extremely threatened by it."

      Ellison added that religion should be something that unites, rather
      than divides.

      "Many people see their religion as an identity thing, much in the same
      way Crips or Bloods might say, 'I'm this, this is the set I'm rolling
      with,' " Ellison said, referring to the infamous street gangs.

      "They've never actually tried to explore how religion should connect
      us, they're into how religion divides us. ... They haven't really
      explored ... how my faith connects me to you."

      Ellison is in Michigan this week to meet with family and speak to
      various groups.

      Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at 248-351-2998 or nwarikoo @ freepress.com



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