"It’s Time to Stop ‘Hatin’ On Muslims in Washington," a Commentary by Askia Muhammad

January 18, 2007

Author: Askia Muhammad

Source: Washington Informer/New American Media


I really thought things were going to be materially better for people with “funny” names like mine when Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) came to Washington. And they have been.

Since he’s been here I have noticed an appreciable mellowing of people on the telephone. I’ve gone from typically hearing the indignant “who!!?” whenever I would leave my name, to a curious “will you spell that please?” nowadays.

So, as a Muslim, who has encountered my fair share of religious bigotry, I thought things would be similarly better when the first Muslim was elected to Congress - especially one with a “normal” name.

No such luck.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) did not have time for much more than measuring the drapes for his new office before receiving his very own religious insult over his intention to perform a strictly ceremonial oath of office, using the Islamic book of scripture, called the Holy Quran, instead of a Holy Bible. Although Ellison is a Detroit-born, Catholic-bred Muslim convert, he and Muslim immigrants in general were singled out for scorn by Rep. Virgil Goode, a Republican member of the U.S. House from Virginia.

I thought Ellison’s election would have just the opposite effect.