Rep. Keith Ellison Wonders Why 'People Care' About His Muslim Faith | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : Tell Me More

Rep. Keith Ellison Wonders Why 'People Care' About His Muslim Faith

Play associated audio

Representative Keith Ellison became the first Muslim to be elected to Congress in 2006, and the first person of color elected to represent Minnesota in the national legislature. Along the way he's confronted questions about his faith, patriotism, and even some unpaid parking tickets that nearly derailed his first campaign. He talks about all that in his new book, My Country, 'Tis Of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future.


Interview Highlights

On the controversy over swearing in with a Quran

It did not occur to me that it would be a problem, you know? I don't know what that reflects about me, but when I was asked the question, my primary concern was getting voters out to the polls, not what I was going to swear in on. I hadn't even assumed that I would be swearing in on anything, because the election had not come. And so, I said "well yeah sure, of course I'll swear in on the Quran." Because it occurs to me that if your elected official is one who would want to swear in on a holy book, you'd want them to swearing on a holy book they profess to, right? Because that's what makes the oath solemn.

On giving tearful testimony at the House of Representatives

It started out very calm, I was fine. But as I just started thinking about [Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who died during the 9/11 attacks], his mother, so many people I've known who've been yanked off airplanes, had their hjiabs pulled off their head, been stabbed, and had their mosques defaced, and been opposed by zoning commissions, I don't know. Maybe it was just all that that came together in my mind in that moment. I don't know what came over me. I remember when I was done feeling embarrassed and wanting to get out of there.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Edison's Talking Dolls Can Now Provide The Soundtrack To Your Nightmares

Thomas Edison built and sold about 500 dolls back in 1890. Now, new technology has made hearing their supercreepy voices possible for the first time in decades. (Thanks, technology.)
NPR

Tea Tuesdays: Butter Up That Tea, Tibetan-Style

Yak butter tea is often referred to as the national drink of Tibet. It's been consumed in the Himalayas for centuries and helped inspire the Bulletproof Coffee craze in the U.S.
NPR

Clinton 'War Room' Pushback And The 'Invent Your Own' Media Campaign

The Clinton campaign went into overdrive Tuesday trying to minimize the damage from a new book that delves into Clinton foundation fundraising — and it's not using the typical channels to do so.
NPR

Edison's Talking Dolls Can Now Provide The Soundtrack To Your Nightmares

Thomas Edison built and sold about 500 dolls back in 1890. Now, new technology has made hearing their supercreepy voices possible for the first time in decades. (Thanks, technology.)

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.