As Keith Ellison, the DFL-endorsed fifth congressional district candidate, revs up his campaign toward the Sept. 12 primary, he received significant moral and financial support from the Muslim community in Minnesota Friday.
At an event sponsored by members of the Muslim community, the Ellison campaign received a contribution of about $50,000. The event was organized by the Muslim Coalition for Keith, a new body of Twin Cities Muslims. About 200 people attended the fundraiser.
One of the organizers, Ali Jaafar refutes that his group is supporting Ellison merely on religious basis. In fact, he profoundly objects to identifying Ellison by his faith.
“We’re supporting him because he’s a pro-peace, progressive and civil rights advocate,” said Jaafar. “He will represent [if elected] all people in the fifth congressional district, regardless of their faith, ethnic or other differentiating identifier.”
“Why is [Ellison] the only candidate identified by his faith as apposed to his opponents who’re only identified by their names?” asks Jaafar.
Labeling Ellison with his faith, Jaafar argues, is intended to implicate him negatively. Keith embraces the teachings of his Muslim faith; the importance of supporting community and nurturing all living things, Jaafar said.
At Friday’s event, nationally known Muslim leaders, including Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and James Yee, the former chaplain in the U.S. Army accused of espionage, came to support Keith Ellison’s campaign.
Awad, it turns out, is a former classmate of Ellison at the University of Minnesota where the two befriended. He has supported his campaign both locally and nationally. Mr. Yee was in town for another speaking engagement. He will also speak at the Annual Muslim Convention this weekend and promote his new book.