A basic disagreement about the meaning of the First Amendment and the right to free speech has pitted a city council against a city mayor who may be forced to resign due to comments about President Obama posted on Facebook.

After someone posted a photograph of First Lady Michelle Obama on his Facebook wall, Bruce Hagen, mayor of Superior, Wisconsin added the comment: “Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!”

The president has repeatedly said he is a Christian and was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, led by the controversial and openly anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for two decades, although his enrollment papers from Santo Fransiskus Assisis Catholic school in Jakarta, Indonesia, list his religion as Islam.

Mayor Hagen’s accusation created immediate outrage in the Superior City Council with five of its ten members calling for him to either retract the statement and apologize to the president and first lady or resign.

City councilman Graham Garfield told reporters, “Quite simply, these are really inappropriate comments. How can we have a non-partisan elected mayor who has to work with elected officials, including the president’s office, making these comments?”

Local councilors were not the only ones to express shock about Hagen’s allegation that Obama is a Muslim.

State Representative Nick Milroy was also interviewed and said, “I’m absolutely shocked and dumbfounded that the mayor would say something so callous and untrue about the First Lady. This is not what Superior is about. We’ve always been a community that’s welcoming to all people.”

Oddly, no one has explained why saying they believe the president and first lady to be Muslim should be considered an insult.

Questions about both the president’s personal religious convictions and his feelings about the Islamic faith have haunted him since he first declared for the presidency in 2006, and nine years later, in a September 2015 CNN poll, 39 percent of Americans responded that they think Obama is a Muslim.

In his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope, the president wrote of Muslims, “I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

Later, in an oral interview conducted in March 2007, the president described the Muslim call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

Saying he stands by his statement, Mayor Hagen says he has “huge respect for the Office of the President,” but does not respect the current administration, adding rhetorically, “Do we still have freedom of speech in the country? Sometimes I kind of forget.”


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