US Muslim Rep. blasts Holocaust denial

usa congress 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
usa congress 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
The United States' first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, condemned Holocaust denial in conversations with Jewish leaders and the media this week. Ellison said it was important to take a stand because "where you do not denounce bigotry, it has a tendency to spread." Ellison was given a special welcome at a Foundation for Ethnic Understanding reception held Wednesday on Capitol Hill to honor new members of Congress who are ethnic minorities. The foundation noted that the number of ethnic minority members - African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Jews - has grown from 72 in 1987 to 127 today. Of the 13 new minority members who entered Congress this January, Ellison was one of the few to attend the foundation's reception. The World Jewish Congress met with Ellison ahead of the reception, and heard him "unequivocally" denounce the Holocaust denial of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's regime. The foundation's president, Rabbi Marc Schneier, recently became the chairman of the WJC's American division. Schneier runs the foundation in coordination with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who recently collaborated with Rapper-turned-record executive Jay-Z on a series of ads attacking anti-Semitism to run throughout the United States and Europe. On Wednesday, Schneier announced that he will be collaborating with famed rap trio the Beastie Boys, whose members are Jewish, on a new series of public service announcements attacking Islamaphobia. "We cannot fight our battles alone," Schneier told the audience at Wednesday's event. "We simply can't."