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New Mexico GOP leader in hot water over anti-Muslim diatribe.

The chairwoman of a New Mexico-based Republican women's group last Tuesday defended a letter to the editor in which she accused Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama of being a "Muslim socialist" and wrote "I believe Muslims are our enemies."

Marcia Stirman of Otero County in southern New Mexico had her letter published last Tuesday in New Mexico's Alamogordo Daily News. The letter, entitled "Why I'm a Republican," listed 16 reasons for her party affiliation ranging from her hatred and distrust of Muslims to stories about Obama adhering to Islam.

The 56-year-old interior decorator's controversial letter also said, "I believe war is a fact of life and we should always win."

A national Islamic group expressed outrage in response to Stirman's letter and called on state and national Republican Party officials to reject the publication of "anti-Muslim comments."

"Because these hate-filled remarks were made by a prominent Republican, it is incumbent on state and national GOP officials to repudiate her divisive and intolerant views," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

A few days after the letter produced an uproar of criticism, officials with the Republican Party of New Mexico and of Otero County moved to separate themselves from Stirman. The executive director of the Republican Party of New Mexico, Matthew Kennicott, said Stirman does not speak for the GOP and her comments do not reflect its values and beliefs.

Sassy Tinling, the chair of the Otero County Republican Committee, said the county party's board will ask Stirman to step down as head of the Republican Women of Otero County.

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Otero County is best known as the location of Alamogordo, the site of the first atomic bomb test in July 1945.

Speaking for herself, Stirman said she had carefully considered what she wrote and refused to apologize.

"I still have freedom of speech and an opinion. If the Islamic group doesn't like it, well, I don't like what's going on in their camp, either," Stirman said.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Stirman said she was surprised by the reaction to her letter, which she said garnered support from all over the country. She said she wrote the letter after the newspaper had published another reader's letter titled "Why I'm a Democrat."

When she was asked to respond to Awad's concerns, she said of Muslims: "I don't trust them at all. They've sworn across the world that they are our enemies. Why we're trying to elect one is beside me."
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Title Annotation:Islam: Muslims and the world
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Oct 31, 2008
Words:418
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