Washington - Two leading Democratic lawmakers are encouraging their colleagues to bring Muslim Americans as their guests to Tuesday's State of the Union in what they're calling a "stand against hate."
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, the first Muslim American elected to Congress, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, point to recent rhetoric used against Muslims by political figures as a reason to issue the invitations for President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address.
"Predictably, the vile comments castigating the entire Muslim population of the world, including American Muslims, have translated into a shameful and dangerous rise of attacks on individuals and vandalism of religious institutions," the letter, sent last week, from Ellison and Schultz reads. "This rhetoric and these actions are simply un-American. They undermine our values and weaken our ability to be a force for good around the world."
Twenty members of Congress have already pledged to bring a Muslim American to the address, according an aide for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, announced on Thursday he would be bringing as his guest Abdirahman Kahin, a restaurant owner in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as a prominent member of the Twin Cities' Muslim community.
House Speaker Paul Ryan will be able to bring several guests to the address in his new role. Ryan has not announced his guests yet, but they are expected to reinforce his recent anti-poverty efforts, his office says.
Several lawmakers have already announced their guests for Tuesday, with many House Democrats bringing relatives of victims of gun violence.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-California, announced he is bringing San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan.