A Tennessee Republican county commissioner is reportedly waging a misinformation campaign against his Muslim-American Democratic challenger.
The Tullahoma News reported Monday that Coffee County Commission candidate Zak Mohyuddin accused his rival -- incumbent Commissioner Mark Kelly -- of spreading "vile, offensive" falsehoods about him based on his Islamic faith.
In a fund-raising letter dated July 16, Kelly wrote to voters, "My opponent has expressed his beliefs publicly that the United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places."
Mohyuddin countered that these accusations were made up out of whole cloth.
"To me, flags and Bibles are objects of respect, regardless of what country or religion they belong to, and I’ve always treated them with respect," he told the News. "This man is saying things about me that don’t reflect my values in any way.”
The Tennesseean newspaper challenged Kelly to list specific incidents where Mohyuddin has disrespected the U.S. flag or Christian Bible and he was "was unable to cite any specific instance when Mohyuddin made such statements." Rather, he claimed, he "heard it during private conversations" with his Democratic rival.
Mohyuddin told the News that the only private conversation he has ever had with Kelly took place 25 years ago when his family bought a house through Kelly's real estate agent wife.
“He helped me move 25 years ago, right after I had bought my house through his wife, but we weren’t talking about politics way back then,” he said.
Kelly said that Mohyuddin must be misremembering.
“It’s just my recollection against his.” Kelly said.
"This has nothing to do with his religion," Kelly insisted. "I support all religions, and I’m glad we can all follow our own in this country, but still, I have my values and he has his, and there is a difference."
Watch video about this story, embedded below: