Speaking in Dearborn, Michigan, late Sunday night, the first Muslim elected to Congress told a cheering crowd of Muslims they should remain steadfast in their faith and push for justice.
“You can’t back down. You can’t chicken out. You can’t be afraid. You got to have faith in Allah, and you’ve got to stand up and be a real Muslim,” Detroit native Keith Ellison said to loud applause.
Many in the crowd replied “Allahu akbar” — God is great.
Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat elected to the U.S. House in November, has been the center of a national debate in recent weeks over Islam and its role in politics. Ellison has said he would take his oath of office on the Quran, the Muslim holy book, igniting a storm of criticism from some commentators.
U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, a Republican from Virginia, said in a letter to constituents this month that the election of Ellison and other Muslims poses a danger to the country.
But Ellison, speaking at the annual convention of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America, said that Muslims can help teach America about justice and equal protection.
“Muslims, you’re up to bat right now,” he said. “How do you know that you were not brought right here to this place to learn how to make this world better?”
The convention, which ended Monday, drew more than 3,000 Muslims from across the country for the event aimed at revival and reform.
Ellison, who converted to Islam during college, made his remarks at the Hyatt Regency, the site of the five-day convention.
Ellison said he’d use the Quran during his swearing-in ceremony next week.
“On Jan. 4, I will go swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I’ll place my hand on the Quran,” Ellison said while placing his hand on the lectern, to loud applause.
So Ellison has finally admitted that he will place his hand on the Koran, the same book that says it’s ok to kill Jews, and lie to others. Great.