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GOP Senator 'glad' Muslim Rep. will swear allegiance to Koran

Ron Brynaert
Published: Sunday December 24, 2006
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Appearing on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized comments perceived by many as "anti-Muslim" made by a Republican Congressman, but agreed that there was an urgent need for immigration reform.

At a press conference on Thursday, as previously reported by Raw Story, Rep. Virgil Goode Jr. (R-VA) defended a letter he wrote criticizing newly elected Muslim congressman Keith Ellison, who plans to use the Koran during his personal swearing-in ceremony.

"I do not apologize and I do not retract my letter," Goode said. "The letter stands for itself and I support the letter."

In that letter, written to Rep. Goode's constituents, the lawmaker wrote that, "if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office demanding the use of the Koran."

On Sunday, Senator Graham said that he doesn't think that's "the appropriate line for a congressman to take when it comes time for another congressman to take the oath."

Graham told Stephanopoulos, "Why would you swear allegiance to a document outside your faith? In our legal system, people can take the oath in a variety of ways. Religious diversity is a strength, not a weakness in this country. We need immigration reform, but not for the reasons that Mr. Goode cited. What would happen in this country if a Christian were elected in Lebanon and he had to swear allegiance to the Koran when it came time for them to take office? There'd be an outcry in this country. So I embrace religious diversity. I welcome this new member of Congress. I'm glad he's swearing allegiance to a document that is consistent with his faith."

"And what I would like America to do in 2007 is understand that the war on terror is about intolerance, that Syria is a dictatorship that has no interest in seeing a representative democracy in Iraq, that Iran, the president of Iran hosted a conference denying the holocaust in December 2006, has vowed to destroy the state of Israel," Graham continued. "We don't need to be talking to these people, we need to be standing up to their agendas and bringing them in line with the world, a world of tolerance."

Graham added that "Iran and Syria are not tolerant states and the statements by Virgil Goode do not represent the best of who we are as a nation."

So far, the White House hasn't issued any "judgments" on Goode's comments.

"We’re aware of the situation but no judgments have been made," President Bush's spokesman, Dana Perino, told the press.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) defended Goode's position on the holy book of Islam.

"Since the days of George Washington, the common bond between the people of the United States, when the Supreme Court Justice holds that Bible out for the President or the Speaker of the House in a official ceremony -- or anybody right down through our townships and our states holds out a Bible -- that Bible is a common bond of commitment and faith," Hunter said. "Not only for the person receiving the office, who's dedicating himself, but for the people of the United States. [The Bible] has been the common bond since our country started."