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Congressman Criticized for Muslim Letter

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

WASHINGTON —  A Republican congressman has told constituents that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected and follow the lead of a recently elected lawmaker who plans to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in.

Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., made the comments in a letter sent earlier this month to hundreds of constituents who had written to him about Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress. Goode's letter triggered angry responses from a New Jersey congressman and an Islamic civil rights group.

In the letter, Goode wrote, "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."

Goode said the U.S. needs to stop illegal immigration "totally" and reduce legal immigration.

Goode added: "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."

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Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college. He did not return telephone messages left Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., wrote to Goode on Wednesday saying that he was "greatly disappointed and in fact startled" by Goode's letter.

"I take your remarks as personally offensive to the large community of Muslim-Americans I represent in the Eighth District of New Jersey," Pascrell wrote.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Goode to apologize.

"Representative Goode's Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office," CAIR's national legislative director, Corey Saylor, said Tuesday night. "There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry."

Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan said Wednesday that no apology was forthcoming.

"The only statement the congressman has is that he stands by the letter," Duncan said.

The letter was made public by John Cruickshank, the chairman of the Piedmont group of the Sierra Club in central Virginia, who had received it after writing to Goode about environmental issues. Duncan said that Goode's office had sent the letter to Cruickshank by mistake.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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