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Congressman Ellison and Jefferson's Koran
by Stephen M. Kirby
On January 4, 2007, newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison made history. He became not only the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, but he also took the ceremonial oath of office holding his hand on the Koran that had been owned by Thomas Jefferson. Dozens of television cameras, including one from the Arab network Al-Arabiya, were on hand to record this historical event.
Ellison had explained the importance of this ceremony in an interview the day before, "…in a private ceremony…I'll put my hand on a book that is the basis of my faith, which is Islam…" ("Keith Ellison and the Jefferson Koran," The Nation – The Beat Blog, January 3, 2007).
A few weeks after the swearing-in, Ellison said that the Koran "is the scripture that I read every day and it's the book that I draw inspiration from" ("Rep. Keith Ellison: First Muslim in Congress," FinalCall.com News, January 20, 2007).
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