Islam and the U.S. Constitution – Responses from Muslim Public Officials and Candidates


On December 9th and 16th of 2019 I sent four questions to 80 Muslim public officials across the United States, asking them to choose between the U.S. Constitution or Islamic Doctrine.  On February 10, 2020 I sent these same four questions to 36 Muslim candidates for public office across the United States.  On February 17, 2020 I sent the same questions again to those Muslim candidates who had not responded.

As more Muslim public officials and candidates are identified in 2020, the same four questions will be sent out.

Most of the Muslim public officials and candidates have not responded to the four questions I sent them.  A few have responded.

Some have expressed support for the U.S. Constitution over Islamic Doctrine.

Others have responded in various ways, without expressing that support.  Here are those responses, listed by State.  This list will be updated as more responses come in.

 

Arizona

Muhammad Arif – Candidate United States Senate:  Arif responded the same day to the February 10th e-mail.  He asked if we could meet for coffee or lunch to discuss the questions.  I explained that I lived too far away for that.  We exchanged several additional e-mails, and on February 11th he wrote:

Since you do not live in Arizona and I’m busy in my campaign because I have limited time … can I email you these answer [sic] next week … I apologize for delay [sic] because the questions I have to read carefully and answer in details [sic]

I replied that would be fine.  The “next week” came and went, and on February 22nd I sent him an e-mail asking when I could expect his responses.  I have not heard back from Arif.

 

Illinois

Ameena Matthews – Candidate U.S. House of Representatives (IL-1):  On February 24th, in reply to my second e-mail, I received the following from Dr. La’Shawn Littrice, Matthews’ Campaign Manager:

Hi, Steve. How are you?  I will forward this to Dr. Matthews and get it back to you by Wednesday [February 26th] of this week.

On February 28th I sent Littrice an e-mail asking her for an update.  I have not heard back from Littrice.

 

Maine

Pious Ali – Portland City Council:  Ali responded on December 9th, simply writing:

The Inquisition ended in 1834

I replied that same day:

There is no “inquisition” involved.  These should be very simple questions to answer because I believe your oath of office included a statement that you would support our U.S. Constitution and laws.  Why do you hesitate to support the 1st and 8th Amendments to our Constitution, and our bigamy laws?

On December 10th Ali responded:

Where are you located again?  I have taking [sic] that oath three times, It [sic] never says I should answer to bigots who live outside my jurisdiction, I hope your week is going well.

I replied that same day by pointing out that there was nothing bigoted about asking how he resolved fundamental conflicts between doctrines of his faith and the U.S. Constitution, and I asked why he was reluctant to answer.

On December 11th Ali responded:

I don’t think I have to answer you, for one basic reason there is a separation between faith and politics in America.  Unless you have another question that is directly connected to my role as an elected official in Portland Maine. [sic] I will not answer any of your racist anti-Muslim questions. 

On December 12th I thanked him for his input.  Later that same day he responded:

that is what I thought [sic]

I had not further exchanges with Ali.

 

Deqa Dhalac, South Portland City Council:

On March 19, 2020 Dhalac responded to my first e-mail:

What you asking has nothing to do with how we work in our city government. We do not use religion to govern for the work we do, you  might want to check our website.

Every religion has some good and some bad, So for your writings here I see your biases against one religion.

I ask you, do you live in South Portland? If not I don’t think there is a need for me to answer for any of your question.

I hope you have a good day.

I replied:

Thanks for getting back with me.  As a public official you took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution.  But as I pointed out in the four questions, there are irreconcilable conflicts between that Constitution and tenets of your religion.  I am interested in understanding how you reconcile the two.  That is why each of the four questions presents a choice between the Constitution or tenets of Islam.

I look forward to your responses.

On March 20, 2020, Dhalac responded:

In these difficult times in our universe where people are helping each other regardless of their religious believes I refuse to entertain your negative views. I hope god shows you how to respect other people’s faiths as god showed me to do just that.

Good day.

 

Michigan

Rashida Tlaib – U.S. House of Representatives (MI-13):  On December 16th I received a form response from Tlaib acknowledging receipt of my e-mail.  I have received nothing further from Tlaib.

 

Minnesota

Ilhan Omar – U.S. House of Representatives (MN-5):  On December 16th I sent the e-mail to three different e-mail addresses I had for Omar.  That same day I received a form response from Connor McNutt, Omar’s Chief of Staff, stating that he was out of the office but would be returning that day.  On December 20th I received a form e-mail from Omar that started out:

Dear Stephen,

As your Congresswoman, I do not only want to represent Minnesotans, I want to govern with you…

Omar never responded to the questions I had sent her.

 

Leila Shukri Adan – Candidate U.S. House of Representatives (MN-5):  On February 17th Adan responded to my second e-mail:

Thank you so much for your email and for the reminder.  I am confirming receipt and will get back to you soon!

I have not heard back from Adan.

 

New Jersey

Mustafa Al-Mutazzim Brent – East Orange City, City Council:  Brent responded on December 12th, writing:

Please pardon my delayed response, it is neither deliberate nor intentional.  Thank you for this timely and necessary discourse.  Please feel free to reach out to me at your convenience, I will be happy to answer any questions you my [sic] have.

I replied that same day by pointing out that I looked forward to his responses to the four questions I had sent him.  I have not heard back from Brent.

 

Kaleem Shabazz – Atlantic City, City Council:  On December 19th I received this reply from Shabazz:

As an elected official I support uphold [sic] and defend the laws of this nation state and city [sic] where I reside.  Islam is completely compatible with the American laws.  As president of the local branch of the NAACP and a member of the state Executive committee of the NAACP I support and speak for social justice civil rights and equality for all citizens [sic].  As President of Bridge of Faith an Interfaith group I try to being [sic] understanding of various faiths.

The next day I sent this response to Shabazz:

Thanks for getting back with me.  I am curious about your statement that “Islam is completely compatible with the American laws,” especially in light of the glaring incompatibility between Islamic Doctrine and the U.S. Constitution/“American laws” shown in the four questions I sent you.  How can you support “the laws of this nation” when such an incompatibility exists between some of those laws and some of the tenets of your religion?  Are you saying that when there is a conflict between the two, our man-made laws are superior to the commands of Allah found in the Koran and the teachings and example of your prophet Muhammad?  Do you mean that Islam “is completely compatible with the American laws” because when there is a conflict between the two, the Doctrines of Islam are subordinate to the U.S. Constitution and our other man-made laws?

I have not heard back from Shabazz.

 

New York

Robert Jackson – State Senate of New York:  On December 16th I received a form response from Jackson confirming receipt of my e-mail and stating:

We will review your email and do our best to provide feedback on the matter.

On December 17th I received the same form response again.  I have not heard back from Jackson.

 

North Carolina

Zainab Baloch – Candidate Mayor of Raleigh:  Baloch lost the 2019 general election to become the Mayor of Raleigh.  However, her subsequent social postings appeared to indicate that she was in politics for the long haul; she had written: “This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.”  On February 17th she responded to my second e-mail:

I didn’t miss it [my first e-mail]. If I have time to respond to your harassing questions, I will. Have a great week!

I have not heard back from Baloch.

 

Ohio

Reem Subei – Candidate Ohio State Senate:   In response to each of the two e-mails I sent Subei, I received the following form response:

Thank you for contacting Reem for Ohio. This campaign is about bringing justice and equality to all. Please click the link below to provide us with your preferred volunteering activity. Let’s build a system that works for everyone, because we all win when we all win. 

The link takes one to a form for volunteers to complete.  I have received no other response from Subei.

 

Virginia

Abrar Omeish – Fairfax County School Board:  Omeish responded on December 9th with a form e-mail thanking me for contacting her and for everything I had done to help her to win.  She noted that if the matter I was contacting her about was “time sensitive” I should send the e-mail again with “time sensitive” in the subject line.  That same day I sent the e-mail again with “time sensitive” in the subject line.  I have not heard back from Omeish.