FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Congressman Allen West responds to criticism he received after sending a letter to a South Florida Muslim organization.
CAIR Florida, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sent the Congressman a letter asking him to disassociate himself from activists that CAIR considers to anti-Islamic.
His reply was perhaps the shortest letter anyone has ever seen from a member of Congress. How short? Try one word, in capital letters: “NUTS!”
“I was shocked at first. I didn’t expect this from a congressman,” said Nezar Hamze, the executive director of CAIR Florida. “We stand up for the civil rights of the Muslim community. That’s what we do,” said Hamze.
Hamze says he wrote to the Republican Congressman earlier this month with his concerns about the Congressman’s relationships with groups and people Hamze considers to be anti-Islamic.
“When I first saw that, I wasn’t sure if he was calling me nuts, or he was calling my concerns nuts,” said Hamze.
Tuesday afternoon, West responded, “[With] the claims that they made in the letter to me, that one response is in keeping with the finest American traditions that we will not back down,” West told CBS4 News.
West confirmed that he was citing World War II General Anthony McAuliffe who famously wrote a one-word letter to the Germans in response to a surrender ultimatum. The word used: “Nuts!”
Constituents in West’s district 22 have also spoke out.“It doesn’t look too professional to me. It doesn’t look thought out,” said one constituent named Chuck.
Simone Oliver, another district 22 constituent thinks it’s fine, but says it needs a little more.“Maybe another sentence, explaining,” she said.
In other letters to CAIR Florida, he has said he is neither anti-Islamic nor anti-Muslim.
Hamze says West has turned down all meetings with CAIR Florida.
“[If I could say something to him now,] I’d tell him to grow up! To act like a congressman and engage in dialogue, and to stop the school boy insults,” said Hamze.