Rep. Keith Ellison — who by now must be tired of being constantly identified as the first Muslim elected to Congress — was in the Middle East over the Presidents Day weekend.
He spoke at Qatar University’s College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, says the Gulf Times.
“Following 9/11, there has been an emergence of Muslim civil rights organizations,” Ellison said. “The political picture is bright, not perfect, but we are ready to expand the dialogue and work to resolving the miscomprehensions that exist in our society and between the U.S. and the Islamic world.”
And he praised President Obama’s early overtures to Muslims.
“This is the first time a U.S. president has reached out in this way”, he said, noting the decision to close Guantanamo Bay, end the war in Iraq, and stop the use of torture. “President Obama’s granting his first international interview to Al-Arabiya was a significant move which showed his commitment to his pledge. He was talking straight to Muslims all over the world.”
The college dean told the paper: “Ellison wanted to meet with us so that we can share our views and discuss issues that connect us to each other. We are especially interested in expanding the dialogue on issues relating to the U.S. and the Islamic world.”