WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Islamic civil rights group wants a columnist who criticized Rep.-elect Keith Ellison’s decision to use the Quran during his ceremonial swearing-in next month removed from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday that the comments by Dennis Prager, a columnist and conservative talk radio host, displayed an intolerance toward Islam that makes him an inappropriate person to serve on the memorial council.

Ellison, D-Minn., is the first Muslim elected to Congress.

In his column last week, Prager wrote: “Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, 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 Holocaust Memorial Council oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

“No one who holds such bigoted, intolerant and divisive views should be in a policy-making position at a taxpayer-funded institution that seeks to educate Americans about the destructive impact hatred has had, and continues to have, on every society,” CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, wrote in a letter to the council’s chairman, Fred Zeidman. . .

Messages left at the Holocaust Museum and at Zeidman’s office were not returned Monday.

In a telephone interview Monday, Prager offered what he called “a solution to this that would satisfy me and the vast majority of Americans” _ Ellison bringing a Bible with him along with his Quran. . .

“It’s obviously up to Mr. Ellison to decide, but I don’t think that forcing him to swear an oath on a book not of his faith is the answer,” said [CAIR] spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper.

Hooper said that although his group supports free speech, “When you are appointed by the president to a council whose mission is to combat hatred and bigotry, and you hold views that promote hatred and bigotry, there’s a problem there.”. . .

By tradition, all members of the House are sworn in together on the House floor. It’s in the photo-op ceremony that a Bible is used _ or in Ellison’s case, the Quran.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and racism, issued a statement calling Prager’s comments “intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American.”


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