Tea Party congressman clashes over Islam at town hall

Congressman Allen West

Boynton Beach, Florida (CNN) — Freshman Republican Congressman Allen West clashed with an advocate for Muslim-American civil rights at a sometimes-rowdy town hall meeting Monday night.

The tense exchange drew boos from a standing room only, largely Republican crowd.

The confrontation came as West, an Iraq War veteran who was backed by the Tea Party in last November’s election, took questions from constituents. Nezar Hamze, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Miami, stepped to the microphone and accused West of making anti-Muslim comments in the past.

“Me and my children choose to follow the faith of Islam. You consistently insult it. How can we expect you to defend our right and practice Islam as far as the Constitution is concerned?” Hamze asked.

“I will always defend your right to practice a free religion under the First Amendment,” West said. “But what you must understand, if I am speaking the truth, I am not going to stop speaking the truth. The truth is not subjective,” he continued to loud applause.

West’s comments on Islam have stirred controversy in the past. He recently said Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, represents “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”

The new GOP congressman pulled no punches commenting on the political crisis in Egypt, drawing parallels between the chaos in that country and the 1979 revolution in Iran. West said the U.S. must stop the Egyptian militant group, the Muslim Brotherhood, from seizing power.

“President Carter, President Obama, Iran, Egypt, the Shah, Mubarak, the Ayatollah, the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a scary parallel. We cannot allow the Muslim Brotherhood to fill the void of leadership that can occur in Egypt,” West said.

Monday night’s event was one of the country’s first town hall meetings since the near assassination of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a constituent event in Tucson, Arizona, in January. The tragedy was followed by calls from Republicans and Democrats to tone down political rhetoric.

Determined to meet with his constituents once a month, West says he is taking his own precautions to stay safe. West, who has a permit to carry concealed weapons in Florida, also suggested to reporters he will be armed at some of his events.

West, who has a permit to carry concealed weapons in Florida, also suggested to reporters he will be armed at some of his events. “I’ve had a concealed weapons license for quite some time, about the last two to three years, and I take it upon myself and my personal responsibility, but I choose the venues in which I’ll carry,” West told CNN.

Asked if he was carrying a gun Monday night, West replied, “I can’t tell you that.”

The audience at Monday’s meeting sounded more like a pep rally than a town hall. West’s promises to oppose the new health care law and efforts to raise the nation’s debt ceiling drew rounds of applause. It was a sign that many Tea Party activists still plan to attend these constituent events, if only to cheer on members of Congress they support.

Still West encouraged his opponents to speak up at his town halls.

“If there is someone here who resides in Congressional District 22 who did not vote for Allen West, I want to hear from you,” West said. “I want to know how I can better serve you and be a better representative.”

By Jim Acosta and Evan Glass, CNN

3 responses

  1. Allen West is correct! Even though the Constitution does not specifically call for separation of church and state, liberal activists and liberal courts have pushed very hard in that direction. Interestingly the supreme court has never actually legally defined religion, so to some extent lower court rulings and personal opinions are conditioned on what each of those entities individually thinks religion should be.

    The separation of church and state “doctrine” should now be used to push back on islam wherever it tries to claim shiria law is protected by the constitution. It is not protected and that point should be driven home. So long as members of the muslim faith will clearly demark between faith and politics they should be allowed to preactce faith in the United States as their conscience requires. As soon as they start mixing faith and politics they should be subjected to the same opposing retorhic that Christians receive when they mention the words Christmas or Easter, and individuals and the courts should push back just as hard as they have in the case of Christians. There is no element of racism in this so long as the distinction is made the political connection generating the opposition is what gives rise to the opposition. If the practicioners of Islam refuse to seperate out politics than they should be clearly identified for what they are, activists who do not acknowledge the principles of this country who only are willing to go along if it suits their objectives.

  2. Senator Blutarsky

    well just “Bully” for Col. West

    Maybe he can get as concerned about immigration laws right here in good ol’ USA, and neutralize the effects of a contrarian culture.

    The US State Dept sent 40,000 Somali refugees to Minneapolis area @ 5 years ago…………you can read of many many problems associated with it. For decades, our State Dept has arbitrarily declared “refugee” status at different times for different people around the world. These arbitrary decisions implant thousands of “refugees” to hundreds of communities nationwide and further compound our already lax immigration status,

    Speaking of which………..how about the WIDE OPEN BORDERS and that minor little “immigration” problem we have because of the criminal negelct by BOTH political parties – in Austin & DC ?

    We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
    – Aesop

  3. Senator Blutarsky

    I guess you all notcied where 42 of the 55 so-called Tea Party Republi-CONS just elected, voted to extend provisions of the onerous ” Patriot Act “……….The Tea Party movement, originally a Ron Paul event from 2004, was infiltrated and taken over by Neocon RINOs such as Gingrich, Palin and that dispicable ilk.

    Liberty has been compromised once again, and the Tea Party as we have known it in 2010 is just a rubber stamp for big government fascist republicons.

    “Most men do not desire liberty; most only wish for a just master.”
    Sallust (86-34BC)

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