TOPEKA — State Rep. Joe Seiwert said Thursday that he didn't mean to offend anyone by forwarding a long-circulating e-mail message arguing that good Muslims can't be good Americans because their highest loyalty is to Islam.
Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, said he was simply passing on information he'd received from someone else. He sent the e-mail without comment last week to 40 other people on a personal account.
The unsigned e-mail message has circulated since at least 2006. It says good Muslims can't be good Americans because they can't truly accept the U.S. Constitution and "democracy and Islam can't coexist."
The Kansas Democratic Party called on Seiwert to apologize, and a spokesman for a national Islamic civil rights group called the e-mail an example of "anti-Islamic bigotry."
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"If I offended anybody, I did not do it intentionally," Seiwert told the Associated Press. "This whole thing is just basically blown up out of context."
Asked whether he thinks Muslims can be good Americans, Seiwert said, "I think most of them try to be."
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, "Obviously, it would trouble us anytime an elected official would promote anti-Islamic bigotry."
Seiwert said he received the message from someone in Wichita but declined to name the source.