Next week, Keith Ellison takes the oath of office as incoming Congressman representing the 5 th Congressional District of Minnesota. The gentleman from Minnesota will have an historic opportunity. As the first Muslim American elected to national office in the United States, Congressman-elect Ellison can be a potent force of moderation for Muslims in America and the world. The new Congressman can use his forum in the House of Representatives to speak out against extremism, against jihad, against terror and death cults and to emerge as the Islamic voice of reason the world has been waiting for.
Representative Ellison should be true to his constituency and at the same time condemn those who have usurped Islam for perverted purposes. The congressman can embody the highest ideals of Islam and democracy, serve as an American emissary to Muslims worldwide and stand alongside fellow congress members whose public religious identities foster acceptance of diversity.
Mr. Ellison’s preference to take his oath of office on a Koran is less important than the oath itself. The oath he takes is not to uphold the principles of the Koran any more than it would be to uphold the teachings of the Gospels or the commandments of the Torah were he a Christian or a Jew. His oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States. With that oath, Mr. Ellison takes up the task of demonstrating that in a free society democracy and Islam can be compatible and that every human being deserves to live in a free society.
Representative Ellison can become the first effective Islamic voice of reason, peace and reconciliation. Let’s hope he will be.
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