Tea party

A prominent member of the Tea Party movement is defending a statement he made about the Muslim representative of Minnesota's 5th District.

On Saturday, Judson Phillips, who heads the Tea Party Nation, published a column suggesting Representative Keith Ellison is unfit to serve because he is Muslim.

"There are a lot of liberals who need to be retired this year, but there are few I can think of more deserving than Keith Ellison," writes Phillips. "Ellison is one of the most radical members of Congress. He has a ZERO rating from the American Conservative Union. He is the only Muslim member of Congress. He supports the Counsel for American Islamic Relations, HAMAS and has helped Congress send millions of tax [dollars] to terrorists in Gaza."

Contrary to Phillip's assertion, Ellison is not the only Muslim in Congress. Indiana Democratic Representative Andre Carson is also Muslim.

The column was written in support of independent candidate Lynne Torgerson, who has herself said some controversial things about Muslims.

"What do I know of Islam?" said Torgerson's website. "Well, I know of 911. Nineteen men from Saudi Arabia, all Muslim, hi-jacked planes, and flew into the two World Trade Towers murdering thousands of people, and tried to fly into our Pentagon, and some believe they also tried to fly an airplane into our White House. From this, what I perceive is Islam conducting an act of war against my country."

Torgerson told the Minnesota Independent that her opinion of Islam does not amounts to any kind of "personal animosity" towards Ellison.

"I am not going to apologize because I'm bothered by a religion that says kill the infidel, especially when I am the infidel," Phillips said on the Tea Party Nation website Tuesday.

"If you read the Koran, the Koran in no uncertain terms says some wonderful things like, 'Kill the infidels,'" said Phillips. "It says it on more than one occasion. I happen to be the infidel. I have a real problem with people who want to kill me just because I'm the infidel."

"A majority of Tea Party members, I suspect, are not fans of Islam," he added.

Phillips' Tea Party Nation organized the first Tea Party convention in Nashville in 2009.

"The Tea Party has featured congressional candidates that dress up as a Nazi, have ties to a criminal biker gang, have called for the violent overthrow of government, and now the leadership is disgracefully telling voters to vote against someone solely on the basis of their religion," a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. "The American people will reject this reckless Right Wing extremism that has unfortunately been embraced by the Republican Party."