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Thursday February 2nd

We talked to N.C. Rep. Nasir Majeed about being Muslim in the GA and his new bill

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One of only 1 percent of non-Christians in the General Assembly, N.C. Rep. Nasif Majeed, D-District 99, believes the public service he gives to the people of North Carolina is tied more to the good of society than to religion.

In light of the recent attacks in two mosques in New Zealand, Majeed is taking action in the legislature by introducing House Bill 312, or the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, on March 11. The bill would increase the penalty for hate crimes from a misdemeanor to a felony, create and maintain a statewide statistics database on hate crimes, provide training for law enforcement to recognize and respond to hate crimes and provide greater training for district attorneys on how to prosecute hate crimes.

“I’m an elected official, and I have served many years in the city of Charlotte, and my service was linked to the people and being a representative for the people," he said. "My religion, I just happen to be a Muslim."

He said during his eight years on the Charlotte City Council, most of the members would give an inclusive prayer that he could relate to and take part in. He said many legislators who have given the prayer in the House have also been inclusive.

“I would say there have been some people who have some exceptions, where they would say, ‘In Jesus Christ’s name we pray,’ and that prayer is not inclusive for me,” he said. “I guess they have a right to say that, but the majority of people have said prayers in the name of God, ‘In God’s name we pray,' and I can really appreciate that.”

Giving the opening prayer in the legislature is based on who volunteers with some members standing by in case no one does. Majeed said he plans to give an opening prayer in the N.C. House soon and will not abridge it from his normal prayers.

“I would give (the prayer) as I normally give it. My prayer is inclusive. Muslim prayer is inclusive,” he said. “We don’t pray to Mohammed, we pray to God, the same God as everyone else, creator of the heavens and the Earth. The English translation of Allah is 'the God.' Our prayer is very inclusive, and it has been that way since its inception.”

When asked about recent court cases against restrictive and non-inclusive prayer practices by a Florida county commissioners board, Majeed said he had not given much thought to the matter, but would try to include atheists and non-atheists by allowing them to pray in whatever way worked best for them.

“Some people say you can make your prayer in silence how you want to make your prayer, but I’ve never crossed that threshold,” he said. 

Majeed said the service that he offers the people would not change even if he practiced a different religion. He said he looks at it as providing service and representing people.

“The House, even a local city council, has nothing to do with having more Jews or having more Muslims or having more Christians on their board,” Majeed said. “It’s more tied into service than it is religion, period.”


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