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Quinn’s appointment stirs up controversy

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SPRINGFIELD — Several Illinois lawmakers debated whether the co-founder of a group dedicated to a former Nation of Islam leader should be appointed to the state's Human Rights Commission.

By Stephanie Fryer

SPRINGFIELD — Several Illinois lawmakers debated whether the co-founder of a group dedicated to a former Nation of Islam leader should be appointed to the state's Human Rights Commission.

Gov. Pat Quinn recommended that Munir Muhammad, of Chicago, be reappointed to the commission — a post he has had since 2003.

Muhammad co-founded the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad was a leader of Black Muslims, and the coalition runs a website about his beliefs and involvement with the Nation of Islam. Some of his beliefs included prohibiting interracial marriage, supporting separate education for men and women, and worship of Allah.

Munir Muhammad on Thursday told lawmakers the not all coalition members agree with the teachings of Elijah Muhammad.

But state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, who opposed Munir Muhammad's reappointment, said, "Some of the things (Elijah Muhammad) said are kind of disturbing. Since this is in the public domain, it's out there for everybody to see, and that's the issue that I have."

However, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago, said she believes Munir Muhammad represents the mission of the human rights commission.

"If we think about religion, I think so many of us share so many different religions, that's the beauty of all of us," she said. "We all have different beliefs. We have diversity, and I think that is what the human rights commission is all about."

The Senate Executive Appointments Committee approved Munir Muhammad's reappointment. It now has to be approved by the full Senate.

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