Keith Ellison

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Keith Ellison (1963-) is a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, the most ethnically diverse in the state, including Minneapolis. He was the first Muslim American elected to Congress. In 2008, the American Conservative Union gave him a 0% "true liberal" rating.

International relations

He focuses on increased and continued emphasis on diplomacy and development, which are the roles and responsibilities of our foreign service agencies, as well as nonviolent conflict resolution.

He is co-sponsor of H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act 2009, to improve foreign aid effectiveness and the need to better coordinate U.S. foreign aid programs by requiring increased transparency. Poverty reduction is the core, and aid programs should be civilian run in other than the most extreme circumstances. "The further development of developing or underdeveloped nations should be one of the three pillars of ensuring U.S. national security along with diplomacy and defense."

To provide resources for foreign policy efforts and public diplomacy, he strongly supports the Foreign Relations Authorization Act Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410) contains components that will expand study-abroad programs as well as cultural and educational programs to broaden the perspectives of our young and future generations. "Most importantly, it will allow the State Department to expand its foreign service workforce over the next two years to support active engagement with partners and allies to restore American leadership and renew our image. In addition, the bill will reiterate U.S. commitment to multilateral diplomacy and our readiness to work with the international community by implementing U.S. financial commitment to the United Nations and other international organizations in which we are an active and responsible member. "

Ellison opposed the Surge in Iraq and has been a continuing advocate of full withdrawal from Iraq. He voted against the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, because he did believe that it represents enough of a departure from our past policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. While he approved of the reconstruction funds for Gaza in the bill, he said that should be separate from military authorizations.

Muslim American issues

Ellison was attacked, by the leader of Tea Party Nation, Judson Phillips, for being Muslim. According to the Washington Post, "Phillips came under fire Wednesday [29 October] after publishing a column through Tea Party Nation's Web site in which he urged voters in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District to support independent candidate Lynne Torgerson over Ellison. Phillips said in the column that Ellison's Muslim faith as well as his liberal voting record and his support for sending federal funds to "terrorists in Gaza" were reasons to vote him out of office." Ellision was quoted as writing (spelling corrected and emphasis added)

There are a lot of liberals who need to be retired this year, but there are few I can think of more deserving than Keith Ellison. Ellison is one of the most radical members of congress. He has a ZERO rating from the American Conservative Union. He is the only Muslim member of Congress. He supports the Council on American Islamic Relations, Hamasand has helped congress send millions of tax dollars to terrorists in Gaza." [1]

Shortly after Ellison's election, Glenn Beck, in a CNN interview, said, with respect to Iraq, "You are saying, "Let`s cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." And I know you`re not. I`m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that`s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way."[2]

Also after his election, Dennis Prager started a campaign to prevent him from taking his seat, if he swore an oath on the Qur'an rather than a Bible.[3] Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) also objected to the use of other than a Bible. The Anti-Defamation League, however, supported him. [4]

In point of fact, no holy books are used at the formal swearing-in by the Speaker of the House, although many Members have personal ceremonies with books of their choice. In his private ceremony, Ellison did use a Qur'an that had been owned by Thomas Jefferson.[5]

He supports the Council on American Islamic Relations, and was criticized by the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.[6] Ellison responded by claiming Jasser gave people a "license for bigotry...I think people who want to engage in nothing less than Muslim-hating really love you a lot, because you give them freedom to do that."[7]


Caucuses and groups

Education and early career

After graduation, he practiced law from 1990 to 2006 in both the private sector and as executive director of the Legal Rights Center. In 2004 he ran for the State Legislature from Legislative District 58B in North Minneapolis.