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First Muslim In US Congress Wants Withdrawal From Iraq January 10, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.

WASHINGTON (AP)–Even as U.S. President George W. Bush prepares to propose a troop increase in Iraq, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress says the solution lies in an immediate withdrawal of military forces from the country.

Representative Keith Ellison, D-Minn., made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“We could describe it as a redeployment or withdrawal, but I think we have run the course in terms of our ability to resolve this conflict militarily,” he said. “I think we need to have a political and economic and diplomatic engagement, and we need to encourage the forces that are in Iraq to begin to resolve the violence in Iraq.”

Ellison argued that Bush’s expected plan to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq is “way too late, way too little” to make a difference.

“So rather than do something small and ineffective, why not get about the business of what we’re going to have to do eventually, which is to begin to end the occupation?” he asked.

Bush is also expected to ask Congress for $100 billion in additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I want to actually look at (the request), but I’m not inclined to continue to support a war or an occupation that he has no plans to get us out of, and which is so costly in terms of dollars and lives of American soldiers – but also Iraqis,” Ellison said.

The White House referred to comments made by spokesman Tony Snow at his briefing Tuesday, in which he said Democrats will have to decide where they stand on two issues: “Number one, do you want Iraq to succeed, and, if so, what does that mean? And, number two, do you believe in supporting the troops as you say, and how do you express that support?”

On another issue, Ellison said he would like to see a ban on racial profiling.

“Racial profiling is damaging to our country because we’re all one nation,” he said. “We should have an equal right to use the highways and byways and the airlines without regard to color, race, religion or anything like that.”

The issue made national headlines last November when US Airways removed six Muslim leaders from a flight in Minneapolis. The imams were seen praying in the airport before boarding.

Ellison made international news last week when he took his ceremonial oath of office on a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. His office has been inundated by interview requests from places such as England, Turkey, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

But Ellison said he has not been overwhelmed.

“I’m fine,” he said. “I’m doing just fine.”


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