Republican delegate nominee Faisal Gill said a voter recently asked him about his Muslim faith, saying, “At the end of the day, you are going to vote for your people?”
“Which people?” Gill responded, saying that many Northern Virginia Muslims are Democrats and that he is often on the other side of issues. During a bruising campaign for an open seat in Prince William County’s competitive 51st District, Gill said he has embraced the responsibility of explaining his faith on the campaign trail.
“It has been difficult for the community to understand and accept a Muslim was running for office,” Gill told the largely Muslim audience at the Daar al-Noor mosque Saturday night. “Let me tell you, I am happy to explain to them what we are about. I would rather have the question asked than to have it go unanswered.”
Gill, a 35-year-old attorney campaigning on illegal-immigration concerns and transportation fixes, built his resume on his experience with President Bush’s White House on homeland security. During his stint with the administration in 2004, the FBI asked Gill about his contract work for the American Muslim Council in 2001, when he performed legal and public affairs duties for the organization.
The group was founded and led by Abdurahman Alamoudi, who later was convicted of financing terrorism.
While Gill was cleared and went back to work the following week, the brief episode has hampered his political quest.
His Republican opponent, Julie Lucas, sent out a mailer asking voters to “Google Faisal Gill” to raise questions about the issue and Gill said there is a new Democratic phone campaign discussing the issue.
Gill welcomes questions about Muslims in general, but he bristles at the campaign tactics.
“If Homeland Security cleared the man, I worry it’s attacking him for being a Muslim,” said Rafi Ahmed, a Muslim community leader. Gill’s opponent, Democratic attorney Paul Nichols, said he had no association with the phone campaign. (MORE)