May 29, 2015—Texas Gov. Rick Perry is known to be an outspoken conservative. The evangelical Christian recently criticized for claiming his Operation Strong Safety was directly responsible for the sharp decline in the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border made even more waves over his comments about the Islamic community.
In a post to her followers on Facebook, essayist and journalist Sarah Amy Harvard praised the conservative governor for educating the public on the difference between radical Islamists and Muslims.
According to Governor Perry, the biggest victims of Islamic radicals are not Christians or even Americans. Muslims, Perry said, are the ones hurting the most over the actions of extremists.
But to those who have followed Perry’s history as Texas’ governor, this is not news. In 2008, the governor showed unmatched support to the Muslim Histories and Culture Project by helping to expand it. The teacher-training program led by Texas Ismailis focuses on introducing Islamic culture and history subjects into Texas schools. To Perry, the program is important because “we must bridge the gap of understanding between East and West if we ever hope to experience a future of peace and prosperity.”
As governor, Perry went as far as supporting a bill that included a consumer protection law requiring food products to be correctly labeled as halal, a term used to describe items or actions permissible for consumption, use, or to engage in, according to Islamic customs.
Instead of following the neo-conservative inclined base on this subject, Perry differs for his understanding of the Muslim culture and traditions by taking a more inclusive approach to the matter.
According to a NewsMax report from 2011, those are not the only important links between Perry and Texas’ Islamic community:
“[F]or years, Perry has been close friends with the head of the Ismaili sect, Aga Khan, whom he met in Paris in 2000. Since then, Perry has attended a number of Ismaili events in Texas, brokered a few agreements between the state and Ismailis (including the legislation introducing Islamic curricula into Texas schools), and even laid the first brick at the groundbreaking ceremony for an Ismaili worship center in Plano in 2005.”
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