"Salaam aleikum brothers and sisters. First of all let me tell you, this day, this huge day where the President signed the healthcare bill, should know that the Muslim community was at the very forefront of this effort. There is not 25 Muslim clinics, there is not 30; there is about 35 clinics founded by Muslims throughout the United States. And it seems like every single day there is a new one being formed yet again. We got big ones in Chicago, in Los Angeles, but also throughout Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, New York, all through Florida. All over the country we see the Muslims responding to the healthcare crisis that the American people are going through. We see doctors, like my dear beloved brother (Omeish) who does, who heals the sick, who takes care – [laughter]
"There is a lot of Musl-, there is a lot of medical talent in the Muslim community, and Dr. Omeish is one example of a person who meets people in their most dire circumstances and restores them and their loved ones back to health. So we just want to say all praise is due to Allah for those Muslim doctors and nurses and physicians who every single day heal Americans even as they themselves have to sometimes face discrimination in our airports, discrimination in language thrown around on the TV and things like that. Kind of reminds me of the great Muhammad Ali who was fighting in the Olympics as he was the victim of discrimination. He was wearing USA across his chest but still he came home and got less than 1st-class treatment in his own country that he was fighting for. But that didn't stop him from being excellent and it doesn't stop these Muslim doctors from being excellent every single day. All praise due to Allah for their faith and their iman. And so let me just thank you again, Dr. (Omeish), for opening up your home and your lovely wife and your family, this beautiful place. All of us, we go home to escape the world, do we not? So when you open your home up to us, it is an act of tremendous generosity, and we are very grateful. Thank you very much.
"So as the Muslim community is moving forward here in the United States, I want to tell you that things are going very well. Things are going well because not only this healthcare debate there was a group of Muslim physicians and medical professionals who beat the doors down and talked about to every member of Congress about the need for federally qualified healthcare centers. I mean can you imagine? They expected the Muslims to come just talk about civil rights. But we're talking about things that affect the American people, because we are the American people. You know? And so this was an incredible thing. But more than that, more than that, Muslims are acting on all areas of life.
"I want to let you know that over the past four years it's been a pleasure to be in the Congress. It's been an amazing time to be here, all kinds of things that have happened. Another interesting thing, development in the last 24 hours is that the American Israel Political Action Committee was on [laughter] Capitol Hill just today, and they were all over the place. And they had their dinner last night. Some of you might be a little upset to know that I went. But I always go and I am going to tell you why I go. Because I want to know what's going on. [Laughter.] Correct? I want to hear what everybody has to say. Right? And I want you to know that the level of organization that they display is considerable. And you should be, you should watch that level of organization. You should know that they only got one issue – and that is to try to say that whatever Israel does is just fine.
"But I want you to know there is a growing awareness in the US Congress and in the executive branch that everything anyone does, including Israel, is not fine. Right? And there are real questions being asked. But let me just tell you, this effort to stop settlements throughout East Jerusalem and throughout the rest of Palestine cannot be something that only the President carries on his shoulders. The American people have got to stand up and say something. And who's going to say something if you don't say something? So today you know I am in a meeting with these folks. They live in my district, they are my constituents. I have a moral and legal obligation to meet with them. And they tell me what's on their mind and I tell them, 'Do you stand,' I ask them, 'Do you stand with the President on stopping settlements in East Jerusalem, because that is the policy of my president and I want to know if you're with the President. Are you with the President?' [Laughter.] You know? You understand? And so the thing is, you could do the same thing. And then make them, 'Err, I don't know, we're thinking about it. You know it's not –' Seriously. You know 'Oh and you know East Jerusalem, everyone knows that you know it's going to be part of the final status agreement anyway, and there's going to be swaths.' No, no, no, no, no. Freeze, freeze, freeze. And then they want to tell me, well you know the real issue is, the real issue is Iran. That's what they want me to think the real issue is, and this, we need to not worry about East Jerusalem, we just need to worry about Iran. I said, 'Well if East Jerusalem is a small thing it doesn't really matter. Why don't you suspend?' Right? If it's such, if Iran is such a big deal, is it a big enough deal for you to suspend your building houses, colonizing what will be the future state of Palestine? This is an important issue, and we should not let the President be out there by ourselves.
"Now some of us might think to ourselves, 'The President hasn't done enough this, he hasn't followed up on his Cairo vision enough.' Let me tell you, all those things may be true, but we're not talking about perfection. We're talking about what we all need to be doing. And I am telling you that the Muslim community in America needs to be among the first to say the President's right. Stop, you know why are we sending a mill-, $2.8 billion dollars a year over there when they won't even honor our request to stop building in East Jerusalem? Where is the future Palestinian state going to be if it's colonized before it even gets up off the ground?"
Male: 'The capital of Palestine.'
Keith Ellison: "The capital. The capital. And where is it going to be? And who's, and it can't, and I know some of you might be thinking, well Keith you know we can't really say anything because if we do then we're going to get attention from the government we don't want. I am telling you, I don't believe that's true because if we hang together and we do the right thing, we say the right thing, I think we can succeed, insha'allah.
"So it's the right time. It's the right time. Because now, all we got to do is stand up next to the President. We don't have to even get out front on this issue. Now you got Clinton, Biden and the President who's told them – stop. Now this has happened before. They beat back a President before. Bush 41 said – stop, and they said – we don't want to stop, and by the way we want our money and we want it now. [Ellison laughs.] Right? You know, I mean we can't allow, we're Americans, right? We can't allow another country to treat us like we're their ATM. Right? And so we ought to stand up as Americans. Now some of us have affinity for other places around the globe. Some of us are new Americans and adopted America as our home. But whether you're born here or whether you accepted America as your own voluntarily, this is our home. Right? All of our home equally, and we can't allow it to be disrespected because some, by a country that we're paying money to. So I am just saying if there was ever a time when we could stand up on this issue, we need to stand up on it now. We need to also, we need to also, so if we could get letters to the President saying, 'Mr. President, I think what you're doing is the right thing and we support you,' that would be a benefit.
"Let me move on to a slightly related issue. Because we're a diverse community and because we're an international community, we should be building the bilateral business relationships between the United States and the Muslim world. We should be, let me say it one more time. What's going on with the US-Libyan relation, business relationship? We got to build it up. Morocco, we got to build it up. Saudi Arabia, we got to build it up. The Gulf countries, we got to build them. Pakistan, we got to build them. We need to have so much goods and services going back and forth between this country and the Muslim world that if we say we need this right here, then everybody is saying, OK. Do you understand my point? If you, I mean you've got to be strategic. And these things are not overnight, they're not a one and done. It takes time to build these relationships and they got to be built.
"If you have come to America, if you've left Syria, let's do something about that sanctions bill that prohibits the trade. If you left North Africa or Malaysia or Indonesia, I know that there's something over there we can sell and there's something from there we can buy here. These business relationships can be leveraged to say that we need some, a new deal politically. Do you understand what I am trying to say? And so, and bring some of your, you know, friends who may not be Muslim along too. I mean if they, you know I mean I on the 27th I'm going, I'm bringing 16 Minnesota companies to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh and (Ad) Dammam (city on the Persian Gulf). And it's the 2nd time we did it. It is going well. They are looking for a deal. Who can blame them? That's what business people do.
"I'm looking for public diplomacy. You understand what I am saying? Public diplomacy. And this is not to say that I don't want the U.S. to be friends with Israel. I just want the United States to have a lot of friends. Right? And to be in a position with the friend to say – you are wrong and you must stop. But now we say it and it doesn't happen even though our GDP is you know four times larger than the 2nd largest country. Right? It just doesn't make any mathematical sense. But it makes all the sense in the world when you see that that country has mobilized its Diaspora in America to do its bidding in America. The question is, with all of us here, we ought to be able to do at least as much. You understand what I am trying to say? That we got a lot of work to do. I'm working on it. We're working on it together, and by supporting with my campaign you're keeping me in business doing this stuff.
"I'm telling you now, with some of the money that you give to me, one of the things I do is I make sure that in Minnesota that whoever I'm supporting wins. And I tell them, this is the hard-earned dollars of Muslim-Americans. OK, so they know. When I, when people on Capitol Hill want me to hand them some money and if I give it to them, I say this is the hard-earned dollars of people who really put it down every day you know and put up with some mess sometimes they shouldn't have to put up with, and I want you to remember that.
"And by doing that I want you to know that when they, the first time we had, I had to deal with a bill that dealt with this whole Middle East issue, you know we had five members vote 'no' on this bill, what, when, on this Operation – remember right after Operation Cast Lead we had 5 vote no and we had 22 vote present. A lot of brothers and sisters didn't know that a present vote is a, is standing up and saying I am here, but it's a refusal to vote for it. It's not voting for it, and by explaining to people that you know if I had voted no we would have had 7 no's and everybody else yes. But because we told people – well you can do this middle thing, we ended up with 27 people saying no. Next thing you know they have another bill when they want to denounce the Goldstone Report. Everybody know what the Goldstone Report is? (Yes). So then I claimed time in opposition to their resolution to denounce the Goldstone Report. You following me? And we organized a bunch of speakers to say, why are you going to denounce a report that you haven't even read? Right? Just because somebody says so? Please. You know? We're not trained seals here, I hope, jumping through hoops of fire, right? We at least read the bill. Think for ourselves a little bit, right? Anyway, we had 58 people who either voted no or who voted present, refusing to vote for it. And a lot of people took what they call a Mississippi walk, you know what I mean, what that is? It's time to vote but you just [laughter] – oh I missed the vote?! (laughter), oh, how did that happen? You know what I mean? A lot of, and they were there on that day so I know they just decided not to vote. And that's the Mississippi walk, that's what the Mississippi walk is.
"So then it comes up that we're trying, that the situation for the people in Gaza is just – I don't care if you're Muslim, I don't care if you're Christian, I don't care if you're Jewish. I don't care if you're Buddhist or Hindu or secular altogether, what's happening to those people is wrong. It's morally wrong. It's morally wrong. So we got 54 people to sign a letter saying it's wrong and you need to open up the crossings right away. Of course, these people who are meeting today, you know, call us the Hamas 54 (Ellison laughs), with you understand what I am saying, which is ridiculous. So what they're saying is, anybody who even asks for children to have human rights is a terrorist. (man says, or anti-Semitic). Right. Or anti-Semitic. And this has nothing to do with being anti anything, this is about being pro something. It's about being pro human dignity. And I'll, you know and so here is the thing. I don't want to be the one who, I want to win. You know what I mean? Sometimes people run for office and I always tell them, brother you remember when you were running, I say you know what, you may not win, but you run like you're going to win. Right? Because only Allah knows who's going to win and sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose the first time, win the next time. You know what I mean [audience – yes, yes]. So we gotta keep on running, cause I lost the first time I ran. But what I am saying is we can decide whether we are going to fight hard, right? And I am telling you, that with your help, we are able to take Muslim presence on Capitol Hill from zero to a real player. And this is what we're trying to do and we got to do it in every state house in America, we got to do it in the Capitol Hill.
"And so I'm going to take my seat in a moment. I've talked a lot about foreign policy stuff and a little about the health care bill. But the message I want to send to you is that what you're doing by donating to this campaign is positioning me and positioning Muslims in general to help steer the ship of state in America. You understand what I am saying? [Another person says, "Yes"] Steer it in a direction that makes sense. The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of seven million. Does that make sense? [A male says "no"]. Is that logic? Right? When the people who, when the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes. Can I say that again? When the region, and I'm talking about Africa and South America, there's Muslims in South America y'all, did you know that? [replies of "yeah] Did you know? Everywhere. Even all the way to the Philippines. Right? All the way up in Norway, all the way down to the, to South Africa, all the way to the tip of Sri Lanka, everywhere in between. The fact is when the people, when the Americans who trace their roots there actually start getting engaged in this thing, it changes it.
"We can see the changes already. We got more civil rights organizations than we've ever had before. The civil rights organizations that we have had to do a lot of tough fighting but they are still standing. CAIR has not fallen, they are fighting and struggling every day. Right? I am telling you that every Friday my brother calls the adhan in the Capitol. Is that right? [Male replies 'Alhamdulillah.'] Under the Capitol dome. [Male says, 'Yes sir.'] And whenever, is that right? [Replies of "yes" and "Alhamdulillah"]. And I am telling you that the Muslim Hill staffers are a group of high, highly, highly competent professionals. Brother Assad Akhtar, yeah, who did such a great job. And so when I go to the Muslim Hill st-, when I go to Jumuah, I can get an update on Sudan, on Pakistan, on the health care bill, on the financial services bill, and on what's really going on in the Senate. And nobody really knows that. [Laughter]. So you know what I mean [Laughter.] Right, right. Nobody really knows that.
"So, so we are emerging as a community. We are involved in politics but we are also engaged in medicine. Do you know that there is a Muslim brother about to buy the Los Angeles Rams? [One guys says 'Saint Louis.'] Saint Louis Rams. [Laughter and commotion over few words] Rams, but the Rams. Muslim guys getting ready to buy the Rams. [Male says, "not Rush Limbaugh] Not Rush Limbaugh. [Laughter.] You know those players said we will not play for that racist, we will not play for that racist. But they'll say, we'll play for the Muslim guy. [Laughter, someone claps.] You know alhamdulillah. So, so, and do you know that Ethan Allen, owned by a Muslim, right? Do you know Muslims engaged in all kinds of things, really a part of this country. We've got to move for-, and you know by the way, do you know it used to be a Muslim was a person who either was an African-American who sought Islam as a refuge from American racism or was somebody who traveled from overseas and became a new American. We got Muslims who are converted to Islam from all walks of life. You know what I am saying? Imam Hamza Yusuf, right? All these brothers and sisters coming in. And it's a beautiful thing. But you know what, if you measure progress by the day, you might not see it. If you measure progress by the week you may not see it. But if you measure progress by the year, in two years, in three years, in 10 years, in 20 years, it's unmistakable progress, unmistakable, unmistakable progress.
"We got Muslim interns doing such a good job, the racist people say that they are spies. Do you all know about that? Now if they weren't doing good job somebody would say – we don't care. If they weren't doing a good job nobody would even care that they, they wouldn't even know. But they're doing a good job, they're doing a fine job, they're representing you well. And you're, and this is something that you will see you know within our lifetime. So I am asking for your help. I need your support. I need your financial support, I need your dua. And you know that you are in my dua. I keep you in my prayer. I keep the ummah in my prayer constantly. Because I am so, I believe, and I believe that the American Muslim community is a blessing to the Muslim community throughout the whole world, and to America itself. And so the thing is, and you all are proving it every day.
"So with that I just want to, I want to begin to wrap my comments up so we can have some dialogue. But I just want to again thank Dr. Omeish, and let brother Esam know that he is my beloved brother. [Esam Omeish says, 'Same here' (crosstalk over few words).] And I love you and you are the best and your family is so beautiful, and again, you know, you put it out there and you ran. I hope you run again. Do we hope he runs again? [replies of yes, ya Allah, applause over few words]. And when he runs he won't run only to represent the Muslim community, although he will represent the Muslim community. He will be running to represent every patient who needed to get some good medical service. He'll be running to make sure consumers get treated fairly. He'll be running to make sure that justice and fairness is the order of the day. And with that I am just gonna have a little bit more of this tea and say I do – [Male says UI few words]. Alright. So OK, so the computers are upstairs if you want to do it online. And deadline is the 31st of March. Any other talking points? Ok good. Thank you. Jazakallahu." [Applause.]