Florida congressman stokes Islamophobia

Tea party-backed freshman congressman Allen West, R-Fla., became unhinged at a recent town hall meeting in South Florida when he told a Muslim questioner who defended Islam, “Don’t try to blow sunshine up my butt!”

The questioner was Nezar Hamze, Executive Director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group.

When Mr. Hamze responded that he was ashamed to hear a U.S. congressman launching such crude attacks against Islam, West, an Iraq War veteran, shouted back above a storm of whooping and hollering from the largely pro-Rep. West audience, “You attacked us! You attacked us! I went to Muslim countries to defend the freedom of Muslim people. Don’t come up here and try to criticize me. Put the microphone down and go home!”

The exchange began when Hamze asked West if he could cite any passages from the Quran that instruct Muslims to kill innocent people, attack America or kill Americans. West claimed that there is a “verse of the sword” that incites Muslims to violence against “infidels” but he did not elaborate, and neither West nor the noisy and indignant crowd allowed Hamze to comment further.

Hamze’s question was in reference to a statement West had made in January at the “Reclaim American Liberty Conference” that Islam “is not a religion … it’s a theo-political belief system that’s been doing this [promoting terrorism] since 622 AD.” West claims that Muslim terrorists are not following a warped version of Islam; they are following genuine Islamic teachings and the instructions of the Quran to promote world domination through terrorist acts.

“You need to get into the Qur’an,” West advises, “then you can really understand this [terrorism] is not a perversion. . . . They are doing exactly what this book says.”

People’s World, 8 March 2011