A Muslim supportive of the State of Israel? A Muslim wishing Jews a happy Rosh Hashanah? A Muslim being elected to the United States Congress? Mark Steyn’s worst nightmare could well come true. The Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota, criminal defence lawyer Keith Ellison, is likely to become the first Muslim to be elected to Congress and the first black representative from Minnesota. Minnesota is a Democratic Party stronghold. The Republican Candidate, accountant and academic Alan Fine, isn’t expected to present any serious political potholes in Ellison’s road to Washington.  Fine has run a vicious personal campaign playing upon Ellison’s past links to the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam organisation. He accused Ellison of being a supporter of Louis Farrakhan and sponsored by a Muslim lobby that supported terrorism. He told a news conference: “I’m extremely concerned about Keith Ellison, Keith Hakim, Keith X Ellison, Keith Ellison Muhammad … I’m personally offended as a Jew that we have a candidate like this running for US Congress.” In a sign that post-September 11 domestic US politics isn’t as racist as imagined, Fine was roundly condemned for his campaign. His own brother Robert Fine, a prominent Minnesota lawyer and colleague of Ellison, personally telephoned Ellison to distance himself from the campaign. Fine (the candidate) justified his vicious campaign to the New York Times: “This has nothing to do with his being a Muslim, this has nothing to do with his being black … This is about someone who supports people who hate. That is why he is unqualified for Congress”. Yeah, right. Ellison, who grew up a Roman Catholic, adopted Islam while a student at Wayne State University. Initially attracted to the NOI’s radical message, he helped organise a local group to attend Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March in October 1995. Fine’s clumsy campaign slogan is “Have a fine day”. Given that the last time Minnesota voters sent a Republican to Congress was in 1962, it’s unlikely Mr Fine’s political days will be fine any time soon.

Peter Fray

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