UPDATE: Muslim civil-rights group accepts invite to W.Va. Capitol

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) - UPDATE: 3/20/19 4 P.M.

The nation's largest Muslim civil-rights organization has accepted an invitation from West Virginia lawmakers to visit the state Capitol in the wake of an Islamophobic display outside the House of Delegates chamber.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations made the announcement Wednesday in a statement that did not indicate when the visit would take place.

Delegate Ken Hicks, a Wayne County Democrat, invited CAIR national board chair Roula Allouch to the Capitol in a letter dated March 8. The letter was signed by several other delegates.

A poster that was part of a group's March 1 display during the legislature's "GOP Day" falsely connected a U.S. congresswoman to the 2001 U.S. terrorist attacks.

The poster bore an image of the burning World Trade Center juxtaposed with a picture of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American and one of the first Muslim congresswomen ever elected.


UPDATE: 03/03/19

A former West Virginia Capitol staffer is disputing anti-Muslim comments a lawmaker says she made.

Anne Lieberman issued a statement Sunday on Facebook, days after she resigned as sergeant at arms of the House of Delegates.

Lieberman says she was summoned to a disturbance outside the House chamber Friday when she encountered Delegate Michael Angelucci, who asked her to remove an anti-Muslim poster. The poster falsely connected a Muslim U.S. congresswoman to the 2001 U.S. terrorist attacks and was part of a protest group's display during the legislature's "GOP Day."

In a subsequent House floor speech, Angelucci said he heard Lieberman tell him, "'All Muslims are terrorists."

According to Lieberman's statement, she told Angelucci, "Not all Muslims are terrorists." Lieberman says Angelucci misunderstood or misheard her.

Angelucci didn't immediately return a phone message Sunday.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 03/02/19

West Virginia's Republican party is condemning the appearance of anti-Muslim flyers and posters that were displayed outside the House chamber during a "WV GOP Day" at the legislature.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter says in a social media post Saturday that the GOP "does not approve, condone, or support hate speech."

Potter says an exhibitor at the Capitol displayed a sign Friday that was not approved by the party. Potter says the exhibitor was asked to remove the sign.

Also on Friday, a West Virginia House of Delegates sergeant at arms resigned after being accused of making an anti-Muslim remark.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 03/01/19 9:35 P.M.

The following statement is from Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, regarding Friday's events in and in front of the House of Delegates chamber.

“The West Virginia Senate is a body that embraces the goodness in all people and celebrates the unique diversity of those who call this great nation of ours home. We must be strong in our resolve to stand up and speak out against fear and hatred when we see it, and we absolutely condemn the kind of behavior that was on display in our own State Capitol. It is hateful and wrong. Above all, it is not representative of the values that the vast majority of West Virginians hold dear. We, as a state, are far better than what we saw today," said Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson County


UPDATE: 03/01/19 7:31 P.M.

Sgt. at Arms Anne Lieberman resigned Friday afternoon after being accused of using an anti-Muslim slur. There's also talk of possible discipline against a lawmaker who allegedly injured a doorkeeper Friday.

A lawmaker says that House Rules Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday to decide if Del. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, will face repercussions for allegedly injuring a doorkeeper during an angry outburst among legislators. Caputo is the minority whip in the House.

Lawmakers say that doorkeeper was hurt when a door was kicked in. That doorkeeper was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, called on all delegates to be respectful of each other.


ORIGINAL STORY: 03/01/19 3:36 P.M.

An anti-Muslim poster on display in the West Virginia Capitol rotunda Friday led to tempers flaring among legislators.

The poster consisted of two photos. The upper photo was an edited picture depicting both planes hitting the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. A caption read, "'NEVER FORGET' - YOU SAID."

Below it was a photo of Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, wearing a hijab. Omar is one of two Muslim women elected to Congress. That picture's caption said, "I AM PROOF - YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN."

The display was outside the House of Delegates chamber as part of a “Republicans Take the Rotunda” event.

Tempers flared in the House chamber when angry Democrats condemned the display.

Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-Marion County, accused Sergeant at Arms Anne Lieberman of an anti-Muslim slur.

“The Sergeant at Arms of this body had enough nerve to say to us all Muslims are terrorists," Angelucci said. "The Sergeant at Arms of this body that represents the people of the state of West Virginia said all Muslims are terrorists.

"That’s beyond shameful. And that’s not freedom of speech, that’s hate speech. That has no place in this House, the people’s House, and I am furious. I don’t want to see her representing the people of this great state in this house again. Muslims are not terrorists. Christians have killed people. That doesn’t mean Christians are terrorists. I am a Christian. I am a proud Christian. I am not a terrorist. There’s no room for that hate in this House.”

Republicans defended the display as free speech.

“While I may not agree with everything out there," said Del. Dianna Graves (R-Kanawha), "I do agree that freedom of speech is something we have to protect.”

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay County, issued this statement after the heated exchange on the House floor:

“The West Virginia House of Delegates unequivocally rejects hate in all of its forms. As we began today’s floor session, we had a series of incidents occur in and outside of our Chamber that absolutely do not reflect the character and civility the people of this state demand of their public servants.

"Leadership of the House of Delegates is currently working to investigate these incidents to learn firsthand the factual basis of what occurred, and will respond with appropriate action.”



 
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