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Candidate's words reveal his ignorance

Re: Elections have a Baptist flavor, Jan. 29 Times:

Editor: I was deeply concerned after reading the recent Hernando Times article, wherein County Commission candidate Richard Power incorrectly referred to Muslims as "Mohammedans," and alleged that not enough have condemned terrorism. Mr. Power went on to add that "Mohammedans" have "to abide by our rules," a statement suggesting that Muslims are foreign guests.

Mr. Power's statements portrayed his ignorance and bigotry to other religions, politics, and history of this great nation.

The educated know that the followers of Prophet Muhammad are called Muslims, and that their religion is Islam. Just as they know that the followers of Jesus are called Christians. Islam is an Arabic word that means submission (to God), those who submit (to God) are called Muslim. Muslims neither worship Muhammad nor pray to him; they simply believe that he (like Noah, Abraham, and Moses) was a messenger and prophet from God. Islam is more than 1,400 years old, and is the fastest-growing religion in the world, with more than 1.2-billion adherents.

The tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on our nation were not only crimes against Americans, they were crimes against all humanity. People of all colors, nations and religions (including Muslims) died on that ill-fated day. The Muslim-American community responded immediately by condemning the attacks with public statements and full page advertisements. Muslims across the nation held blood drives, fundraisers and interfaith events to aid the victims, while fostering understanding and with healing.

Locally, Muslims in Hernando have done their share of giving, such as the Ramadan-Thanksgiving Food Basket Program, which was intended to help feed local needy families. In November the Hernando County Commission adopted Resolution 2003-310, praising the program, which is now in it's third year.

Mr. Power makes a familiar argument often used by radical right-wing conservatives, suggesting Muslims have not done enough to condemn terrorism. Have we, as a nation, demanded similar condemnations from Christians for the acts of Timothy McVeigh or Paul Hill? Neither represents Christianity, just as the hijackers of 9/11 did not represent Islam.

Mr. Power fails to recognize that an elected official is a public servant, and is expected to serve his constituents. Hernando County is home to a number of Muslim families, many of whom are professionals serving the needs of the community, while adding to its economic development.

As a political candidate, Mr. Power should understand that we live in a great nation built upon democratic values, where "all men are created equal." Muslim-Americans are not foreign guests in Mr. Power's home, where he sets the rules; they are part of that constitutional phrase "We the people," and that gives them the right to help set America's rules and its culture.

Ahmed Bedier, communications director

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Tampa

Incumbent Brown-Waite will still be challenged in election

Re: Jan. 28 column by Editor of Editorials Jeff Webb:

Editor: Webb comments regarding the announcement of Karen Thurman's decision not to run for the 5th District Congressional seat, currently held by freshman Republican incumbent Ginny Brown-Waite, is very timely.

Although the thousands of voters who strongly supported Thurman's candidacy in the past will continue to miss her presence on the political scene, it is time for the Democratic Party to move on.

Webb's suggestion that Thurman's absence from the coming campaign will somehow cause the Democratic Party to abandon pursuit of an election victory on Nov. 2, 2004, is wishful thinking.

Party leadership and voter determination to defeat Brown-Waite and her rubber-stamp endorsements of the ill-advised Bush Administration policies ensure a hotly contested race in the 5th Congressional District this year, I can assure you.

My early opposition to the Iraq war and its overwhelming costs to our nation, my adamant criticism of the Patriot Act threatening our basic freedoms and civil liberties and my long-term advocacy of a universal (locally run) health care system for all Americans promises a bigger fight than Brown-Waite and Thurman engaged in the 2002 congressional election.

Dismissal of my candidacy with the observation that Thurman's decision not to run "all but assures the incumbent another two-year term" also does not acknowledge my determination to best represent the interests of District 5 voters.

Good candidates, no matter how new to the scene, don't always come spun-dried, prepackaged and well known. Thurman was a middle-school teacher before becoming well known and successful representative of her constituents.

Brian P. Moore, Spring Hill

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