A conservative activist in Minnesota introduced a resolution last week to “minimize and eliminate the influence of Islam” in the state’s Republican Party.
Jeff Baumann, a notorious anti-Muslim activist in Minnesota’s Senate District 36, also urged in the resolution that “no Islamic leader, religious or otherwise, shall ever be allowed to deliver the invocation at any Republican convention or event.”
The resolution further called for “legislation, policies, and educational programs [to] be implemented... so as to evermore minimize and eliminate the influence of Islam within Minnesota, including Minnesota schools.”
Baumann presented the resolution at a caucus meeting in Coon Rapids, a suburb of Minneapolis. He later told HuffPost that the resolution has passed in at least four precincts in Minnesota, something HuffPost was unable to independently verify.
Speaking to HuffPost on Monday, Baumann argued that “there is a natural tension” between Islam and the U.S. Constitution, calling the religion a “collective” where there is “very little room for Muslims to have independent thought.” He also said Muslim-Americans currently involved in politics are “dishonest.”
“I believe that what I am saying is correct. I believe what I’m saying is not hateful, not ignorant and not bigoted,” Baumann said. “It is my job to help persuade you to come over to my way of thinking.”
Baumann also claimed that Muslims have a “fundamentally different vision for how society and governments should be organized,” and that the future of Muslim-Americans in leadership positions would be one of “civil war, genocide, concentration camps and other horrible, horrible things.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Minnesota officials to condemn Baumann and his resolution.
“We believe this is the resurgence to the hoodless KKK,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the local Minnesota chapter of CAIR, told HuffPost. “This is not acceptable behavior. Him and others really are a threat to our democracy. If unchecked, these individuals can sway individual members of [the] party.”
In the past, Baumann has spoken against building mosques in Minnesota, describing it as “treason” and “aiding the enemy.”
His resolution comes at a moment of acute prejudice against Muslims in the North Star State. Recently, two Republican state lawmakers and a local GOP official in Minnesota came under fire for reportedly sharing a Facebook post that accused Muslims of preparing to “infiltrate” the party’s caucuses, after a group of Muslims had attended a caucus training session held at a local mosque.
Jeff Johnson, a leading Republican candidate for Minnesota governor, defended the GOP lawmakers in a conservative podcast earlier this month. “There are some here who are trying to change what America is,” he said. “And we can’t allow that.”
Phillip Parrish, another Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota, claimed earlier this year that the Islamic State militant group was “the true representation of Islam,” and that the religion of more than 1.6 billion people is “ultimately not a faith” and “fundamentally incompatible with U.S. law.”
Anti-Muslim activists often depict Sharia, or Islamic law, as a brutal judicial system that Muslims want to institute in place of the U.S. Constitution. In reality, though, no national Muslim organization has ever called for Sharia to supercede American courts, nor have American Muslims demanded such a change.
As it happens, one of the two Muslims currently serving in Congress, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, is from Minnesota. (The other, Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, is from Indiana.)
As of Monday afternoon, there had been no reports of civil war, genocide or concentration camps in Ellison’s district.
UPDATE: Feb. 14 ― Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, said on Wednesday that Baumann “is one person, and he does not speak on behalf of the party.”
“He doesn’t represent or embody the values of what the Republican Party in Minnesota stands for, and that resolution does not either,” Carnahan told HuffPost.
Carnahan, the first Asian-American woman to serve as chair of the Minnesota GOP, said the kind of rhetoric used in Baumann’s resolution is “simply untrue.” She cited Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), the first Somali-American Muslim legislator elected to office in the United States.
“The whole thing that you can’t be Muslim and run [for office] is incorrect,” Carnahan said. “I think it’s very dangerous on either side, to classify an entire group of people one way. People that are Muslim does not equate to being a terrorist or anything like that. To try to group one people into one small box, it’s just wrong, and I think that’s where our country gets into trouble, when people make that mistake.”
She also noted that at least one part of Baumann’s resolution ― “Be it resolved that no Islamic leader, religious or otherwise, shall ever be allowed to deliver the invocation at any Republican convention or event” ― would impinge on her own authority.
“It’s at the discretion of the chair, who is me, to decide if there’s an invocation given at Republican events and conventions. And if so, I get to decide who that is,” she said. “So that portion of his resolution is completely out of order.”
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