WASHINGTON – Rep. Keith Ellison, Congress' only Muslim, made a weekend trip to Iraq, where a pair of sheiks urged him to help counter Al Qaeda's vision of Islam.
Ellison, D-Minn., said he met in Ramadi with the two sheiks, who oversee several hundred thousand congregants.
"They were very upset and concerned that Al Qaeda is misrepresenting Islam," Ellison told reporters Monday during a conference call from Germany on his way back to the U.S. "And they were talking to me about what I can possibly do to work with them to give a clearer, more accurate picture of what Islam is all about."
Ellison, a vocal critic of the Iraq war, was part of a delegation of six freshman House members, three Democrats and three Republicans, who visited Baghdad and Ramadi.
Leading the delegation was Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., who said he saw signs of progress in Ramadi in Anbar province and was impressed by Gen. David Petraeus, President Bush's top military commander in Iraq, who argued in favor of giving Bush's troop surge strategy time to work.
McNerney said he still favors a timeline to get troops out of Iraq — something House leaders may bring to the floor again this week as part of a defense spending bill — but is open to being flexible "in terms of when it might end."