John M. Becker

WI City Councilman Asks Random Muslim Woman to Condemn Terrorism

Filed By John M. Becker | October 21, 2014 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Chris Wery, Green Bay, Islam, Islamophobia, l, Muslims, Wisconsin

chris-wery-green-bay.jpgChris Wery, an alderman on the city council in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is facing criticism after an email exchange with a city resident where he noted her affiliation with a Muslim student group and asked her to condemn terrorism.

The resident, Heba Mohammad, wrote to Wery expressing her concern that the local bus transit system provides free service on Green Bay Packers game days, but not on Election Day. "This discovery is quite alarming," Mohammad wrote, "considering that voting is a civic duty and important for our federal, state and local governments." She asked Wery to take up the issue with his colleagues on the council, so that citizens who can't afford a bus ticket will still be able to vote in next month's election.

In his response, Wery thanked Mohammad for her message and said her transportation question deserved further research. He then asked her whether she was the founder of the Muslim Students' Association at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, because he "want[ed] to be assured" that "[the] group in no way promotes or defends militant Islamic ideology or Sharia law."

"Do you and the MSA condemn both of those as well as terrorist groups such as HAMAS [sic]?," Wery wrote.

More details, including screen shots, after the break.

Mohammad responded that indeed, she was the founder of the UWGB Muslim Student Association, but told Wery that the question was inappropriate, because it had nothing to do with her email and because she had graduated from the university and was therefore no longer affiliated with the MSA.

Wery defended himself in a subsequent email, writing: "Around the country and in the past there have been issues with MSA's, so my questions were not off base." He did not explain what exactly the issues were that he was concerned about.

The entire email exchange is below (images via Facebook).

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Wery told The Bilerico Project that he spoke with Mohammad over the phone and apologized for his "approach" during their email exchange.

"As a fellow alum, I knew she was the founder of UWGB's MSA. I know the history of how the national MSA was founded and their original goals. I do know there are issues nationally with some chapters. Thus, I had the perfect person to ask about her intentions on founding the group here.

"I should have called or emailed her separately to not link the 2 issues together."

Wery made a similar statement on his Facebook page. In neither statement did he explain what "issues" he was referring to with local or national MSAs.

Commenters on Facebook aren't buying it, though. "What you said was incredibly racist," Ashley Deprey-Peeters writes. "...You need to apologize not only to Ms. Mohammed [sic], but also to the Muslim community of Green Bay."

"You shame our alma mater and you shame me with your inept view of the world," wrote Ryro McConnell. "Also, please do not worry about being threatened by the Irish Republican Army, since my name may trigger your senseless affinity to judging people by their last names (or other irrelevant information)."

Ms. Mohammad could not be reached for comment.

Incidentally, Wery isn't a big fan of LGBT people either -- in 2011, he joined colleagues on the Green Bay Common Council in voting down a measure that would have given health benefits to domestic partners of LGBT city workers, calling the proposal "an attempt to redefine and weaken" the "traditional family" and "attack marriage." (Thankfully, Wisconsin is now a marriage equality state.)

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