Keith Ellison: A Man With Heart

Pictured above: Democratic congressional candidate for the 5th District of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, eats the final iftar of Ramadan at a Bloomfield Hills fundraiser.

By Masood Rab

Keith Ellison exudes self-confidence; his direct glare and decisive mannerisms evidence strong goals and ambition. He speaks directly and seems a man of good character, capable of making strong decisions without hesitation. He is not tall, perhaps 5’10”, but is powerfully built.

He is a man who has traveled–spiritually, physically and professionally. His travels started when he was 19 and a student at Wayne State University in Detroit. “This young man came to my center,” recalls Imam Abdullah El-Amin of Muslim Center in Detroit, “and asked about Islam and was ready for this journey to Islam. He had this burning ambition to change the world”. After graduating with a degree in economics, he traveled to Minneapolis to attend University of Minnesota School of Law. After completing the law school he settled down in Minneapolis. He is married and has four children. Practicing as a criminal defense attorney, he ventured into the politics of the Democratic Party and was elected a state representative. He is now traveling in his political profession to the next higher level – a seat in the U.S. Congress.
“I am concerned about the state of our nation and the direction it is going in. The average American today is facing many dilemmas – the cost of education, cost of living, health insurance, cost of wars. An average American is working harder and longer hours just to keep up with the increasing energy costs, higher education costs, reduction in benefits. I am strongly in favor of a new direction–diplomacy and negotiations in place of coercive aggression and wars. I want to have all parties in Iraq brought in for negotiations including the neighboring countries. The current administration under President Bush has failed in its foreign policy and has succeeded in establishing a state of fear to break all national and international laws.”

“The Muslims in America have a big responsibility,” he reflects, pausing from the flow of his thoughts on current national and international issues, “to stand up for justice–enjoin what is right and stop what is wrong. Muslims have to pursue political involvement–Democrat, Republican, whatever–to have the real issues brought out for discussion. Muslims must be involved in shaping the political landscape of this country.”

“As Muslims we are facing adversity after 9/11. But many others have gone through this adversity before. Lessons from the civil rights era must be shared again and again,” philosophically he notes, “Vigilance is the price of freedom.”

“I have been successful in bringing many community segments together on the platform for peace, civil rights, human rights and health. When the political right attacks me as a Muslim and tries to scare the voters, the National Jewish Democratic Council issues a statement calling for an apology in response to the attacks.” He is contesting for congressional seat from 5th ward in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is 70% democrat and is considered as a safe democratic seat.

“I will not let this country of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Fredrick Douglas be seized by racists and bigots,” concludes Keith Ellison.

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