WASHINGTON – An Islamic civil rights group Wednesday called on President Bush to rescind the appointment of a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum board member who criticized an incoming congressman, Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Last week, Dennis Prager, a conservative talk radio host and columnist, criticized Ellison – a Minnesota Democrat, for choosing to use the Quran, rather than the Bible, during his ceremonial swearing-in.

“Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned,” Prager wrote in an Internet column, “America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.”

The museum board said this week that Prager’s comments did not reflect the museum’s position, but added that the board “is not self-appointed,” and lacked the power to remove him.

So Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sent Bush a letter on Wednesday asking for Prager’s removal.

“If put into practice, Mr. Prager’s exclusionary and intolerant views would permanently marginalize every minority faith in America and would violate the constitutional ban on a state-sponsored religion,” said the letter, a copy of which The Associated Press obtained.

The White House had no immediate comment on the letter. Earlier Wednesday, before the letter was sent, White House press secretary Tony Snow called the matter “an issue that the president does not need to adjudicate and, therefore, will not.”

Bush appointed Prager in August to fill the remainder of a five-year term that expires in January 2011.

In a telephone interview, Prager argued that CAIR was waging the campaign against him because of critical things he said about the group, not what he wrote about Ellison.

“CAIR is afraid of me, and that is the reason,” he said. “I never said a word or wrote a word against the Quran or Islam.”

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper responded: “Until this controversy arose, we were not aware of any reference Mr. Prager made about CAIR.”


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