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Posted Online on Friday, 10 November 2006 23:55 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsFirst Muslim elected to US Congress

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The Milli Gazette Online

9 November 2006

Keith Ellison, a Democratic candidate from Minnesota State, Tuesday created history when he became the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress with a landslide. 

Ellison got 136,061 or 56% votes while his rival, Republican Party Jewish candidate, Alan Fine, received only 52,263 or 21% votes. Independent candidate Ms.Tammy Lee also got 21% or 51,456 votes.

Voters responded to his liberal message calling for peace, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and universal health care. In a victory message to his voters, Ellison said that he made history because he showed that a candidate can run a 100% positive campaign and prevail, even against tough opposition. 

He said: "We showed that we are stronger when we build bridges between communities rather than trying to divide and conquer. We showed that people who believe everyone counts, and that peace should be the guiding principle of our nation, make up the majority of the 5th Congressional District. And that is something of which we should be very proud." 

He added that he was working for an America where everybody counts, where everybody matters and where peace is our guiding principle. 

Ellison, 43, a defense lawyer and Minnesota State Assembly member since 2003, embraced Islam when he was studying at college. 

The Rev. Jackson, one of America's best known civil rights, religious and political figures, and local notables joined Keith Ellison to rally volunteers for the final push to victory. 

His campaign had generated excitement among the seven-million-strong American Muslim community. He visited Florida and California with large concentration of Muslim population to garner support for his campaign. The Council on American-Islamic Relations collected about $400,000 in a fundraiser for Ellison. 

Ellison won the Democratic primary in the state's 5th Congressional District last September in part by bringing new Muslim voters into a coalition that drew, in part, on Minneapolis' black, Jewish, and gay and lesbian communities. 

The American Muslim Task Force, an umbrella organization of American Muslims, had described Ellison's primary election as a huge victory for both Muslim Americans and America. An AMT statement said: "This victory has eradicated two stereotypes: one against Muslims, that cannot they work and succeed in democratic setup and the other against the United States, that it is not a tolerant society."

The Newsweek reported recently that America 's estimated five to seven million Muslims are nearly invisible when it comes to holding office. Currently, the highest-ranking Muslim public official is Larry Shaw, a North Carolina state senator. In 2004, Ferial Masry, a Saudi-born woman lost her bid for congress in California. Also from California , Syed Rifat Mahmood made an unsuccessful bid for congress in 2002 on a Republican ticket. 

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine, the American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com

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