A MUSLIM candidate for a Coffee County Commission seat says his incumbent opponent made false accusation about his Islamic religious and unpatriotic beliefs to smear his name in an attempt to appeal to voters.
Tennessean In a July 16 letter asking District 15 constituents for their vote, Republican Commissioner Mark Kelly made the following claims about his Democratic political opponent, Zak Mohyuddin:
“My opponent has expressed his beliefs publicly that the United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places.”
Mohyuddin, a 25-year resident of Tullahoma, was deeply offended by the statements and is scrambling to assure voters the claims are untrue as early voting began Friday.
“That is a very serious allegation. What he is saying is vile and offensive and completely untrue,” Mohyuddin said. “It’s an attack on my patriotism. I have never ever said any words even close to that in public or in private. It is absolute lies.”
Kelly, who has known Mohyuddin for 25 years and helped him move into his home, told The Tennessean he stands by his letter.
“I am a Christian and have been and will be. Zak isn’t, and he has a different faith and there are a lot of different faiths,” Kelly said. “I am standing on my values and my record. The point of the letter was to encourage the conservative base to get out and vote. It was simply to show the difference in views between two people, not that one is right or wrong, just a difference.”
When asked when and where he had heard Mohyuddin make the statements, Kelly said “I have heard him in our discussions over time. Just go back to the places he represents and you’ll find out.
Speaking to his patriotism, Mohyuddin notes that after that incident, at a Muslim rally in Manchester last year held to increase awareness about American Muslims, he led a group of 500 people in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. He is a member of the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee, which sponsored the event.