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

In Bhutto's 'Crescent Moon,' Pakistan 'Demands A Sacrifice From Its People'

Fatima Bhutto is a member of the one of the most famous families in Pakistan. Her novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, is about Pakistan's remote tribal regions, where loyalties are very divided.
NPR

When Wal-Mart Comes To Town, What Does It Mean For Workers?

Wal-Mart has long been criticized for low pay and erratic work schedules. So when the retailer arrives in a community, it stirs controversy — but it also brings jobs and low prices.
NPR

What's Changed Since The First Religious Liberty Law Was Passed In 1993?

When the first Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 1993, the vote in Congress was nearly unanimous. We examine how religious freedom laws have become so controversial.
NPR

Still Need A Lawn Yeti? Good News — SkyMall May Be Cleared For Relaunch

The in-flight catalog went bankrupt earlier this year. But its new owners say SkyMall catalogs might make their way back to airplane seatbacks soon.

Leave a Comment

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