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Members of Congress arrested at Sudanese embassy

Five members of Congress were arrested Monday while protesting outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington.

The congress members crossed a yellow police tape line and refused to leave the largely peaceful demonstration after calling on Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir to reinstate 16 nongovernmental aid organizations [in Darfur] that he expelled or shut down last month in response to the International Criminal Court issuing a warrant for his arrest.

Several also called on President Obama to pressure the international community, including China, a major trading partner with Sudan, for a solution to the violence in Darfur.

The lawmakers — Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Lynn Woolsey (D-[California]), John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) — were handcuffed by Secret Service officers after crossing the tape and taken to jail by local police officers. Each paid a $100 fine and was released within several hours.

john-lewis1
Congressman John Lewis being arrested by Secret Service officers outside the Sudanese embassy

Lewis was one of the leading figures of the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Ellison is the only Muslim member of Congress.

In 2006 the late Tom Lantos– the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress– was among five lawmakers arrested while protesting the Darfur atrocities outside the Sudanese embassy.

Update:
Keith Ellison is the first Muslim to serve in Congress, but he is not the only one. Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana is Muslim as well.

(Hat tip: David Schraub)