Georgia mayor, Ellis, says he’s converted to Islam and wants name change

By Matt Barnwell

Macon Mayor Jack Ellis has converted to Islam and is working to legally change his name to Hakim Mansour Ellis.

The mayor, raised as a Christian, said Thursday that he has been studying the Koran for years and made the religious switch at a December ceremony in the country of Senegal on the western African coast. Ellis is now a Sunni Muslim, having chosen a religion he said was originally practiced by his west African ancestors before they were brought to America by slave traders.

Ellis said his decision was a personal one, though he understands his elected position breeds public interest in his choice. It was not something he decided overnight to do, he said.

“Why does one become a Christian? … You do it because it feels right. It’s the right thing for you to do. … To me it’s no big deal. But people like to know what you believe in. And this is what I believe in.”