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Last updated 10:51PM ET
March 3, 2021
Muslim Legislator Feels Religion Now Less a Political Factor
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - State Rep. Yusuf Salaam of Selma, the only Muslim in the Alabama Legislature, says he hopes he is an example of how religion is becoming less a factor as people judge political candidates and that some of the paranoia caused by the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks is evaporating.

Salaam, a Democrat, says he believes he has helped make the religion of a politician less of an issue, much like Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has removed race as an issue for some voters.

Salaam told The Associated Press in an interview that he hopes the average Alabamian can now overlook his religious label and see him as a strong patriot and a supporter of the American way of life.

Salaam says that's not the way he felt when he came to Montgomery in 2003 as Alabama's first Muslim legislator and felt like there were 104 sets of eyes watching him in the 105-member House of Representatives.

But he says eventually other House members discovered he was "just another human being."

They also discovered that as a Muslim, he has many of the same conservative views on social issues such as gay marriage and posting the Ten Commandments in schools as his mostly Christian fellow lawmakers.

Salaam is an attorney and former Selma city council president who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2004.

He is beginning his sixth regular session in the House and has worked to become known more for his legislation than for his religion.

On Thursday, he sponsored ethics legislation that was the second bill considered in the 2008 session.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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