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US Rep. Goode Stands By Letter With Anti-Muslim Sentiment December 22, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (AP)–Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., said Thursday he won’t retract his letter to constituents in which he said he didn’t “subscribe to using the Koran in any way” and linked Islam to illegal immigration.

Goode’s letter triggered angry responses from an Islamic civil rights group and a New Jersey congressman. Goode was responding to residents in his Virginia district who e-mailed him about an incoming Minnesota congressman’s decision to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in.

“I will not be putting my hand on the Quran,” Goode told a news conference Thursday at the Franklin County Courthouse.

In a letter earlier this month to hundreds of constituents referring to Democratic Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, Goode warned that “many more Muslims will be elected to office” unless immigration is tightened. He said the U.S. needs to stop illegal immigration altogether and reduce legal immigration.

Virginia’s senior senator, Republican John Warner, said in a statement Thursday that he respects the right of members of Congress to freely “exercise the religion of their choice, including those of the Islamic faith utilizing the Quran.”

Goode said he has receiving more positive than negative comments from constituents.

“One lady told me she thinks I’m doing the right thing on this,” he said in a Fox News interview on Thursday. “I wish more people would take a stand and stand up for the principles on which this country was founded.”

Goode also told Fox News he wants to limit legal immigration and do away with “diversity visas,” which he said let in people “not from European countries” and “some terrorist states.”

Ellison was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Goode’s remarks sent “a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office,” and called on Goode to apologize.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., wrote to Goode that he took the remarks as “personally offensive” to the large community of Muslim-Americans in New Jersey he represents.

Goode said he hadn’t posted his letter on his Web site and was merely responding to constituents who were upset about Ellison’s decision to use the Quran during his unofficial swearing-in. That decision has provoked anger is some conservative circles.

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