A Tennessee Republican county commissioner is campaigning against his Democratic challenger, a Muslim-American, by questioning his opponent’s patriotism while reminding voters of his own Christian beliefs.
A report from Sunday’s The Tennessean highlights a letter Coffee County Republican Commissioner Mark Kelly sent voters alleging that his opponent has made statements calling for the American flag and the Bible to be removed from public spaces … even though “Kelly was unable to cite any specific instance when [Zak] Mohyuddin made such statements.”
Kelly told The Tennessean that the letter was just to remind voters of “the difference in views between two people,” namely that he is a Christian and Mohyuddin is not.
Last year, Coffee County Commissioner Barry West posted an image of a man aiming a shotgun with the caption: “How to wink at a Muslim.”
H/T: RWW reader Chris.
In a July 16 letter asking District 15 constituents for their vote, Republican Commissioner Mark Kelly made the following claims about his Democratic political opponent, Zak Mohyuddin:
"My opponent has expressed his beliefs publicly that the United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places."
When questioned by The Tennessean about how he knew the statements were true, Kelly was unable to cite any specific instance when Mohyuddin made such statements. He said he had heard it during private conversations with him.
Mohyuddin, a 25-year resident of Tullahoma, was deeply offended by the statements and is scrambling to assure voters the claims are untrue as early voting began Friday.
"That is a very serious allegation. What he is saying is vile and offensive and completely untrue," Mohyuddin said. "It's an attack on my patriotism. I have never ever said any words even close to that in public or in private. It is absolute lies. It's not like he doesn't know me."
Kelly, who has known Mohyuddin for 25 years and helped him move into his home, told The Tennessean he is not anti-Muslim and that he stands by his letter.
"I am a Christian and have been and will be. Zak isn't, and he has a different faith and there are a lot of different faiths," Kelly said. "I am standing on my values and my record. The point of the letter was to encourage the conservative base to get out and vote. It was simply to show the difference in views between two people, not that one is right or wrong, just a difference."
Kelly also wrote in the letter: "I believe in the Christian values and work ethics that are the foundation of this great nation … Our Founding Fathers prayed to God and established our Nation and its Laws based on the Judeo-Christian principles of the Bible. Because the Bible is foundational to understanding American history and law as well as our heritage; the Bible belongs in public places."