December 21, 2006
Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode is defending his statements about closing the United States to all Muslims. He made this statements while answering emails from several constituents asking his opinion about Congressman-Elect Keith Ellison's decision to take his oath of office on the Koran. His statements have caused concern around the Charlottesville area.
"I do not apologize and I do not retract my letter. The letter stands for itself and I support the letter," Goode said during a news conference this afternoon.
Virgil Goode is not backing from statements he made in a letter just days ago. In that he letter he said, "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt strict immigration policies . . ."
"I can say that he probably thinks that his constituency believes the same thing as him, but I hope that is not the case," said Armin Zijerdi.
Zijerdi is an Iranian-American born and raised in the United States. While he is not a practicing Muslim, his entire family is. He says that the Congressman's remarks only serve as an example of ignorance.
"I was upset because he used the word Muslim. He didn't distinguish between regular Islam and radical Islam. That's a problem because that breeds intolerance."
"Because of the tragic attacks of 9-11, we have significantly come to equate Muslims and Islam with terrorism," said UVa Professor of Emeritus R.K. Ramazani.
Professor Ramazani has lived in Iran and written several books about Jeffersonian principles and the Middle East. He believes Goode's statements go against the diversity and openness that America stands for.
"It (diversity) has been a source of American strength, not weakness. In that sense, I consider such a statement un-American," he said.