Christie calls anti-Muslim conservatives "bigots"
The following video hasn't gotten much attention in the mainstream press, but it has lit a fire on right-wing web sites. The shaky, grainy 16-minute speech was shot by an attendee at a dinner for the Muslim holiday of Iftar, held at the governor's mansion two weeks ago. "In many publications around this country I'm now called an Islamist," Christie told the crowd. "Ya know, listen, I've been called worst things -- usually on the boardwalk on Seaside Heights. Y'all saw my reaction to that."
UPDATE: This video has apparently been taken offline.
The following video hasn't gotten much attention in the mainstream press, but it has lit a fire on right-wing web sites.
The shaky, grainy 16-minute speech was shot by an attendee during an Iftar dinner - the evening meal during Ramadan - at the governor's mansion two weeks ago.
"In many publications around this country I'm now called an Islamist," Christie told the crowd of New Jersey Muslims. "Ya know, listen, I've been called worse things -- usually on the boardwalk on Seaside Heights. Y'all saw my reaction to that."
It is an extraordinary video, in part because you don't often hear Republicans calling out elements of their own party for being "bigots" against Muslims. The issue of Islamic extremism is wrought with potential political pitfalls, and yet here is a guy on the short-list for GOP vice-presidential nominees who is directly confronting the topic in the backyard of his own house.
"I'll tell you that there is a gaze of intolerance that is going around our country that is disturbing to me," Christie said. "This is something that as a political leader you can think you understand as an objective observer, but you don't really understand until you become part of the story."
He said that two of his actions have "drawn the ire" of some conservatives around the country. The first was the nomination of a Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim attorney, as a superior court judge. Conservative web sites have criticized the appointment, saying Mohammed has defended terrorists and will employ shariah law. But Christie called Mohammed a friend and said that those who create hysteria about his appointment because are "bigots."
Christie went on to ask the Muslims in attendance to recommend members of their community for appointments, including judgeships.
Christie also noted that he has been called out for his relationship with Imam Mohammad Qatanani, who is often described online as a "Hamas-linked cleric."
"The fact of the matter is that in all my interactions over the years with the imam, he has attempted to be a force for good in his community, in our state, with law enforcement, with those of us who have gotten to know and work with us over the years," said Christie, who worked with the Muslim community as a U.S. Attorney in the aftermath of Sept. 11. "So I hope what you see is a consistent strain of conduct. I will judge people based on their relationships with me and how they conduct themselves."
Find a sampling of the concerns of conservatives on this web site, but beware that the comments section contains offensive words against Christie and Muslims.