Frankfort Township Assessor Paul Ruff Stands by E-mail on Islam, Immigrants

August 20, 2008

Author: Mary Owen

Source: The Chicago Tribune,0,4041765.story

Despite outrage from the local Muslim community, a Frankfort Township official did not apologize Wednesday for circulating an e-mail with anti-Islamic sentiments.

"The e-mail's basic message was that people coming to this country should adapt," Township Assessor Paul Ruff said in a statement. "This wasn't a hateful e-mail, but one that touched upon a sentiment in this country and around the world that immigrants have to adapt to their new homes."

Statements in the e-mail were attributed to former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who a few years ago ignited controversy with criticism of Islam and statements asserting that immigrants need to adapt to their new country.

Ruff said he did not write the content of the e-mail, and its origins were unknown.

The flap has drawn the ire of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Chicago and members of a mosque in Frankfort, prompting residents and religious leaders to hold a town hall meeting last week to discuss discrimination against Muslims. Ruff did not attend the meeting.

"It's kind of a shock," Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the council, said Wednesday. "Clearly this is offensive behavior on behalf of a public official."