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Rep. Joe Courtney Heeds Call Of Dem Leaders, Invites Muslim Leader to State of the Union

Representative Joe Courtney, D-CT., waits to address a crowd of supporters at his election night rally in New London, Conn., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Courtney was re-elected by a wide margin.
AP Photo/Fred Beckham

Connecticut U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D) intends to bring the president of the state’s chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as his guest at the State of the Union address.

The invitation comes following a CBS News report in mid-December that Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Muslim-American Rep. Keith Ellison urged Democrats to challenge Donald Trump’s recommendation that the United States temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States by inviting a Muslim-American as a guest to the State of the Union address.

“I am very happy that Dr. Mohammed Qureshi has agreed to be my guest at President Obama’s final State of the Union address,” said Courtney in a press release. “Dr. Qureshi is an important member of our local medical community, serving as a primary care physician at United Community & Family Services and Backus Hospital in Norwich. His lifetime of work and service should be an example to all.”

Wasserman Schultz and Ellison described GOP frontrunner Trump’s proposal of a temporary Muslim ban until lawmakers had secured the nation’s safety as “vile” and “un-American.”

“With that in mind, we are asking our colleagues that have not already determined a State of the Union guest to consider joining us in bringing a Muslim-American constituent as their guest to the President’s State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016,” their request said.

Aides to Wasserman Schultz and Ellison told CBS News that both of them intend to bring Muslim-Americans as their guests.

Courtney’s press release continues:

Dr. Qureshi is the President of the Connecticut chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Following the terrorist attacks last November in Paris, the mosque that Dr. Qureshi’s family attends in Meriden was fired at in a random act of violence, although no one was hurt during the incident. In the wake of that event, Dr. Qureshi has become a prominent voice advocating for education and understanding in response to anti-Islamic sentiment.

According to the news report, Qureshi, who was originally from the United Kingdom, attends services at Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden which was allegedly fired upon by city resident Ted Hakey Jr., who was arrested December 17 and charged with damages to a religious property. Hakey was released on a $400,000 real-estate bond on January 4.

Qureshi said he is grateful to Courtney for the invitation.

“I am honored to join Congressman Courtney in Washington for the President’s State of the Union address,” he said.

“It’s significant because this is President Obama’s last State of the Union,” he said. “To be present there, means a lot.”

He added that when Courtney invited him, he was incredulous.

“This is something which I had never, ever imagined,” he said. “I could only dream of it.”


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