Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Rep. Ellison Statement on Anti-Muslim NDAA Amendment

Jul 13, 2017
Press Release

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement on a proposed NDAA Amendment which would order a strategic assessment of the Muslim faith, create a list of faith leaders, and determine acceptable ways to practice Islam:

“I take the words ‘…and justice for all’ literally. Unfortunately, our government has a long history of targeting people based on their religion, nationality, or race. All you need to do is look at Jim Crow, or the Japanese internment, or the MS St. Louis for evidence. Those who advocated for stigmatizing others claimed they were doing so for our security or national identity. However, our failures have proven when we single out a group of people and treat them differently, shameful and regrettable abuses and mistreatment follow.
 
“Rep. Franks’ NDAA amendment ordering a ‘strategic assessment’ on Islam goes against everything we strive to be. By ordering the Department of Defense to scrutinize a single religion, identify leaders for some unknown purpose, and determine an acceptable way to practice, Congress is “abridging the free exercise of religion”, which is constitutionally impermissible.  
 
“The FBI reported a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015 - the same year Asma Jama’s face was slashed with a beer mug while she was eating dinner at an Applebee’s in Minnesota. Her attacker admitted in court that she attacked Asma simply because she was Muslim and not speaking English.
 
“This rise in hate crimes isn’t a surprise. Our president began his campaign spouting hate, said Islam hates America, and promised to ban Muslims. His rhetoric has contributed to the growing movement of hate in our country, and I have no doubt that some of the most notorious racist, anti-Muslim voices will be a part of the non-government assessment demanded by this amendment.
 
“My colleagues supporting this amendment may believe they are doing a good thing, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
 
“If we haven’t already learned from our tattered past, when will we?”