Zak Mohyuddin, a Pakistani-born Muslim, is an American citizen and a 40-year resident of Tennessee.
He is the Democratic candidate for a seat on the Coffee County Commission currently held by Republican Mark Kelly.
The campaign should have involved a vigorous exchange of views about how best to serve the residents of Coffee County. Instead Kelly sent a letter to voters claiming that Mohyuddin has “publicly” expressed beliefs that the “United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places.”
Leaving aside the matter of whether the US is officially a Christian nation (it’s not), Mohyuddin has vigorously denied ever saying any of these things. The only evidence Kelly offered is what he claims were “private conversations” with Mohyuddin.
Mohyuddin says he hasn’t spoken with Kelly in 25 years.
The Nashville Tennessean reports:
Mohyuddin, a Tullahoma engineer, holds a security clearance that requires an extensive background check every five years. Among his community service track record, he touts 14 years of putting in at least 100 hours annually to giving free income tax return preparation to residents through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Mohyuddin said he also has no problem with public prayers or public display of Bibles.
“The Supreme Court made a decision that county commissions or city councils can start meetings with Christian prayers, and that’s fine,” he said. “That’s the law of the land. And I participate. I bow my head like everybody else. I don’t have an issue with it. I understand the intention of it. We have a common creator. We have different faiths.”
“The same with Bibles,” he said. “This is a Christian majority country. That has never even occurred to me about not having them in public places. That’s how absurd it is.”
He is more accepting of the Supreme Court decision than I am.
WSMV TV in Nashville reports:
As voters cast their ballots early, some aren’t standing with Kelly’s letter.
“I voted for Mark Kelly,” John Yarbrough said. “If I had read this letter before I voted, I would not have voted for him because I don’t believe it’s true. I think it’s dirty politics. I haven’t seen anything dirty Zak has put out,” he added.
Kelly said his goal was to make people want to get out and vote.
He might achieve his goal, although it may not be to his advantage.