By Eric Roper

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Keith Ellison read a statement denouncing a group of conservative lawmakers who think an Islamic group may be sending spies into Congress.

The statement, which was co-authored by several minority caucuses, criticized four representatives for seeking an investigation into the Council on American-Islamic Relations in response to claims in a new book, "Muslim Mafia," that CAIR is trying to plant interns on Capitol HIll.

One of the representatives calling for the investigation, North Carolina Republican Sue Myrick, wrote the forward to the book.

Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, has had a long relationship with CAIR, which called the allegations "racist." Ellison related the probe to McCarthyism in the 1950s.

"These charges smack of an America 60 years ago where lists of `un-American' agitators were identified," Ellison said, reading from the statement. "We should be affirming the importance of diversity and tolerance for all interns and staff who serve in Congress without suspicion of being identified as `spies.' "

"The idea that we should investigate Muslim interns as spies is a blow to the very principle of religious freedom that our Founding Fathers cherished so dearly," he added. "If anything, we should be encouraging all Americans to engage in the U.S. political process, to take part in, and to contribute to, the great democratic experiment that is America."



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