Gov. Rick Perry’s friendly relationship with some Texas Muslims was touted in a recent story on Salon.com.
While some other presidential candidates bring up concerns about American Muslims’ loyalty and decry Islamic law in the U.S., here’s a Christian, Republican politician who initiated a teacher-training program on Islamic history and has been friends for years with the Aga Khan, head of an Islamic sect called Ismailis, Salon points out. Perry even laid the first brick at the groundbreaking ceremony for an Ismaili worship center in Plano in 2005.
According to Ismaili national spokesman Mahmoud Eboo, the premise of the Salon story is true, and despite criticism for his Christians-only prayer rally, Perry serves on behalf of all Texans “regardless of race, color or faith.”
The governor — like other American politicians (everyone from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to President John F. Kennedy) — has built a relationship with the Aga Khan based on respect and mutual interest, one that could be carried into the White House if Perry runs and gets elected.
“His Highness (the Aga Khan) will continue to work with our leaders, whether it’s Gov. Perry or anyone else,” said Eboo. “The fact that His Highness already knows the governor is advantageous.”
Ismaili Muslims, a group that numbers between 30,000 to 40,000 in Houston where the organization is headquartered, are not predisposed to any political party, but Perry has seen support from Texas Ismailis as well as Muslims from the bigger Sunni and Shia traditions.