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Thursday, December 21, 2006
Muslim Congressman: Goode 'has a lot to learn about Islam'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected to Congress, defended his choice Thursday to use the Koran during his upcoming private congressional swearing-in ceremony while brushing aside criticisms from Virginia GOP Rep. Virgil Goode.

"Diversity of our country is a great strength," Ellison told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." "It's a good thing that we have people of all faiths and cultures that come here and we all support one constitution."

In a letter released to CNN Wednesday, Goode wrote in part to a constituent, "I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. 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."

"He has a lot to learn about Islam," Ellison responded when asked if he thought Goode was a bigot.

Ellison said he did not know Goode well enough to label him with that term but urged the Virginia Republican to reach out to faiths different than his own.

"I would urge Congressman Goode to have his congregation reach out to a synagogue or a mosque and start some inter-faith dialogue so we can increase understanding among each other as Americans of different faiths," Ellison said.

-- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
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