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Inside Politics

Muslim congressman shakes critic's hand

Story Highlights

• Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, sworn in on Quran
• Ellison and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Virginia, agree to meet again over coffee
• Goode had warned constituents of more Muslims in Congress
• "I'm trying to build bridges," Ellison, a freshman congressman, says
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On his first day in Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, finally met the Republican who criticized him for his decision to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in.

Ellison asked another Democratic member to introduce him to Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Virginia, who spoke out against Ellison in a letter to constituents last month.

Ellison told CNN that he approached Goode on the House floor and that the brief meeting went well.

"I shook his hand and he shook mine," Ellison said. "We greeted each other."

Ellison asked Goode to grab a cup of coffee with him soon and Goode accepted.

"By reaching out to Congressman Goode I'm not trying to be accepted, I'm trying to build bridges," Ellison said. "In this world there are too many misunderstandings. I want to put a human face on things."

Ellison was sworn in with other House members on the House floor. Later, at a ceremonial, photo-opportunity swearing-in with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he chose to use a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson instead of a Bible.

Last month Goode wrote a letter to his constituents, stating, "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."

Ellison shrugged off the intense media attention at his ceremonial event, saying, "I figure it's all part of it, and I take it all in stride."



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