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Lawmaker Apologizes for Muslim Remarks
By TODD DVORAK
BOISE, Idaho, August 18, 2007 - Rep. Bill Sali has apologized to a Muslim colleague for remarks suggesting the nation's founders never intended for Muslims to serve in Congress.
In an Aug. 8 interview with the conservative Christian-based American Family News Network, Sali also questioned the wisdom of Senate leaders, who last month invited a Hindu clergyman to give the morning prayer in the chamber.
We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes _ and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," Sali said, according to an article on the network's Web site.
The comments drew criticism from liberal bloggers and Idaho Democrats. Former Idaho Democratic congressman Richard Stallings called for Sali to either apologize or resign.
Sali responded days later, sending Ellison an e-mail explaining he meant no offense.
"He said that he wanted to make sure that Congressman Ellison understood that he meant no harm or disrespect," Sali spokesman Wayne Hoffman said.
Hoffman declined to release a copy of the e-mail, saying it was a private communication.
Ellison is traveling outside the country, but his spokesman said the congressman typically does not take such remarks personally.
"We will take Bill Sali at his word," Rick Jauert said Friday. "That would be in keeping with Keith's turn-the-other-cheek mentality. He figures if someone has a bad day, chooses their words poorly, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt."
A spokesman for a national Islamic civil rights group said the organization is satisfied with Sali's response.
Sali drew criticism last year for linking abortion to breast cancer rates during debates on the House floor.
Source: Associated Press