Keith Ellison Booed by Palestinian Protesters

Keith Ellison booed off stage

Palestinian activists sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians beg for the support of Rep. Keith Ellison on the State Capitol steps today where they held a rally to protest.

January 5, 2008

Dawud Walid wrote about the protest in his blog entry,
Re Ellison on Gaza and Myopic Perspectives

Perhaps these hecklers didn’t know that Rep. Ellison had just spoke on the House floor against the disproportionate attacks and killings of civilians in Gaza.

You can see the video here:

Did you watch it? They booed Rep. Ellison because he said he wasn’t condemning either side. What really bothered me is when one speaker began his diatribe about some Zionist conspiracy controlling government. Nobody booed the conspiratorial speaker. Not only were his statements farfetched and ineffectual, but they are completely detrimental to the Palestinian cause. He sounded just like a klansman talking about some Zionist Protocol nonsense. The reason why our government doesn’t pay attention to American Muslim viewpoints is because we aren’t involved in the political process, we don’t have a lobby, and as a community we don’t have a unified political front.

Palestinian activists, he’s on your side!! And this is what angers me so much about such blatant disrespect. In fact, it is this type of behavior that makes me not want to join any rally. First, it just seems like these rallies are about venting anger, as opposed to changing people’s opinions. I’m sorry, but you’re not going to get anywhere with that type of conduct.  What is the point of protesting, when you won’t have a dialog with those who can actually make a difference? This perhaps, is the greatest reason why you don’t see me at these rallies/protests.


19 thoughts on “Keith Ellison Booed by Palestinian Protesters

  1. That is wrong, but please forgive your brothers and sisters and offer those seventy excuses. If you’re thinking there was some racism involved there, it could be true, but please do not assume it to be true. Assume the best intentions, inshaAllah. That is best for all of us.

    This is not time to fight amongst ourselves. Never is the time for ourselves. And whoever forgives shall attain a higher station in Allah’s eyes, inshaAllah.



  2. Well, if those protesters used that hikmah, they might have shown our brother more respect. The one excuse I give is ignorance and if they want some unity and respect, they have to show us some respect too. They don’t have to apologize to me, but to brother Keith Ellison.


  3. I don’t think that racism has much of anything to do with this incident but ignorance.

    That don’t fully understand the socio-politica climate of America and the burden that this brother has on his shoulders.

    Interestingly, I’ve heard some criticism around the country about Br. Keith’s vote but none about Br. Andre Carson’s vote, our other Muslim brother in Congress.


  4. Hello Sister,
    It is true that protesters always exagerate in demonstrations but I think that Keith Ellison didn’t do what he had to do either.
    He should have said his position before talking about love, hope or understanding, instead of making people doubt about his opinion on this attack.
    There is a time to keep opinions for oneself and a time to speak out clearly, especially when it involves the massacre of a people.Even Ron Paul did it very courageously.
    Many people, including Nelson Mandela himself, compared the situation of the palestinian people to the Apartheid in South Africa. Would you listen to someone telling you that he won’t condemn the SA Government but rather try to promote understanding at the time of the Apartheid?
    By the same, when a black man was lynched to death because he supposedly stole or slapped a white person, would you hear one of your leaders saying “I dont want to condemn anybody”?

    I agree with you that we should listen to each other to unify and be influential. We also need to take clear stands, even if they ask a little bit more courage, if we want to be taken seriously.

    To finish I really dont think it was racism expressed, but only disappointment.It was unfortunate to display such an image of our community but I think the responsability is shared.

    PS: Hamas did not break the cease fire in the first place. Even CNN did check these facts.


  5. So Jasso,
    Yes, at Friday Khutbah I was told Hamas did not break the cease fire. And even if it did, I cannot justify Israel bombing schools, homes, and office buildings. Unlike Carson, our other Muslim congressman, Ellison did not vote for the resolution defending Israel’s right to defend itself from attacks in Gaza.

    Personally, I think he was brave for putting his career on a limb by showing solidarity. And even if he didn’t articulate his stance in a way that the protesters wanted, they should have still given him a chance to speak and encouraged him to take a stronger stance.

    When it comes to being taken seriously, do you think the Palestinian demonstrators are being taken seriously by the government? Initially Ellison did take them seriously. Do you think their rhetoric will work? I doubt that any representative will stand at a rally, especially in light of that border-line neo-Nazi-like Zionist protocol conspiracy theory garbage that was being spouted off at the rally.

    I’d agree that the system in place in Palestine is similar to Bantustans in apartheid South Africa. And because Nelson Mandela is a serious peace maker and DID promote peace, understanding, and reconciliation with HIS oppressors UNLIKE Hamas, that he was taken seriously by the international community and eventually the South African government.


  6. asa. that was painful to watch. apparently, no consideration of public relations issues or ramifications whatsoever. we don’t have or watch tv so i am wondering if this is being broadcast by the major news media outlets.


  7. but I think that Keith Ellison didn’t do what he had to do either.

    He couldn’t do what he came to do because they acted like a group of insensed idiots! They should have showed Br. Ellison the respect he deserved by coming there and showing solidarity with their cause. Under no uncertain terms should Mr. Ellison been seen as having done something incorrect or better. And for those that wish to site statements of forgiveness, where was any such understanding extended to their guest? It is of no amazement that the Palestinians continue to suffer. I am only sorry that Mr. Ellison wasted his time.


  8. About the protesters: They are obviously disrespectful and these reactions are inefficient. It is something we are used to see in many rallies.

    Now about Nelson Mandela, he is certainly not Hamas but he made no doubts about his condemnation of the regime. Nelson Mandela was labelled as a terrorist until last year in the US! The ANC was conducting terrorists attacks in the country and he did not condemn those attacks. And before promoting understanding and love, he did more than condemning the apartheid regime and the racism that was going on.
    Keith Ellison is not Nelson Mandela either but many activists are conducting non violent resistance and at the same time, they condemn very clearly the israeli government for his actions. I think that this is the right thing to do in such cases. We are outside of this conflict so we need to have rationale attitudes (unlike these protesters) but also clear positions. So I just regret that Keith Ellison used that phrase.


  9. And thinking about it again, I really agree with what you’ve said here:
    “Personally, I think he was brave for putting his career on a limb by showing solidarity. And even if he didn’t articulate his stance in a way that the protesters wanted, they should have still given him a chance to speak and encouraged him to take a stronger stance.”


  10. These highly charged protests in general seem to do more harm than hurt IMHO as well. I don’t get how being disrespectful to Rep Ellis for not doing/saying things EXACTLY the way they want them done is going to ameliorate anything for those suffering in Gaza.

    But then again, things like this happen far too often. Over the years I have seen quite a few “Anti-Israel” rallies/protests that are what I would a “hot mess,” creating more anger and opposition TOWARDs the cause than anything else: From poor organization, to America bashing and conspiracy theorizing.

    This is so sad, and as you say, it is a key example of the need for Muslim or (perhaps Arab?) political organization. I think that more than not helping the Palestinian cause all that much, it magnifies the view of Muslims and Arabs in particular I guess as hot headed, dogmatic uncivilized etc.

    I understand the mistrust of the system, but we gotta work from within and without if change is gonna come. This is something that I think other communities have recognized and at least strive towards.


  11. This is frankly annoying.In fact what he was about to say might have been the most informative, realistic and original way to examine what is happening right now.

    How far does the rhetoric and language of condemnation get us? We can condemn and come up with conspiracy theories all day long but where are the proactive ideas.

    You can just see the immaturity of the crowd here. It so reminds me of my rally-attending college years where it was an us (the authentic) vs. them (the establishment) mentality. And I do believe this treatment of Ellison has hints of ethnocentrism and racism. Ridiculous.


  12. As Salaamu Alaikum Sister:

    We had a pro-Gaza support demonstration in Harrisburg, PA, last week. The CAIR representative stressed to everyone very strongly that they wanted it to be a peaceful and loving show of support for the citizens of Gaza. Alhamdulillah, it was a beautiful day.


  13. Although Ellison was disrespected at the rally the fact remains he still took the cowards way out by voting “present” instead of casting a NO vote like Kucinich, Ron Paul and Nick Rahall. After reading the resolution there’s no reason for a muslim or any person of conscience to vote anything less the No on the resolution.

    I agree with what he stated on his website however he still voted “present”. He kind of, sort of, took a stand but not really. His actions didn’t coincide with his speech. The resolution was wholly about casting Israel as a victim giving it full permission to do whatever it seems fit. If Ellison was against this as his statement suggests then how could he not vote No on this resolution? How can others like Nick Rahall or Dennis Kucinich take a stand but a man who is suppose to represent Muslims in US not take stand. Nice words are nothing without action to back it up. It’s one thing to have disagreements, I don’t agree with Ellison’s promotion of gay “marriage”, and it’s another when time comes to take a moral stand you balk. Which in my opinion is what Ellison has done.


  14. I think its rather silly to attack the congressman who abstained yet not say anything about the guy that voted for it.

    Anyways its not like it would matter, if both the muslim congressman voted “no”, then it would be 7 instead of 5 votes against the bill.


  15. I said this on MuslimMatters.

    I think it was absolutely ridiculous and embarrassing how the protesters pretty much forced him off the podium. The fact that the brotha was speaking at the rally could have possibly meant that he was going to explain himself.



  16. i do agree that the protestors should have let the man finish speaking and their behavior was off the mark, however to conclude that this is why the palestinians continue to suffer is unfair.


  17. Bismillah

    I couldn’t watch the entire video when I first came across it because of a slow connection. Subhana’Allah this is so upsetting to see this type of attitude coming from Muslims who failed to display patience and a wisdom. May Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala aid the people of Ghazza, Aameen


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