Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., told a group of atheists earlier this week the actions of the Bush administration in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks remind him of the Nazis’ use of the burning of Berlin’s Reichstag parliament building in 1933 to expand their power.

Ellison, at a noontime speech before Atheists for Human Rights, told the Minneapolis-based group, “You’ll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists.”

The congressman talked to the group of over 100 meeting in the Southdale Library in Edina about a number of topics – impeaching Vice President Cheney, Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence, the war in Iraq and the 2001 attacks by al-Qaida.

Speaking of the destruction of the World Trade Center and the damage to the Pentagon, Ellison said, “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”

On Feb. 27, 1933 – one week before elections in Germany – the Reichstag building in Berlin was burned. Historians have disputed who set the blaze for nearly 75 years, although the Nazis have often been suggested as culprits who destroyed the nation’s parliament building in an effort to discredit the communists and justify seizure of emergency powers.

The day following the fire, Chancellor Adolph Hitler pushed for an end to many personal, political and property rights and used powers granted to him to crush political opposition and come to power.

“The fact is that I’m not saying it was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box – dismiss you,” Ellison explained to the group.

Ellison, however, is no stranger to controversial positions.

As WND has reported, Ellison, a Muslim who used a Quran for his swearing-in ceremony, has come under criticism for associating with a Muslim group accused of fomenting violence against Jews and Christians.

He also allowed his election supporters to shout, “Allahu Akbar!” the same phrase allegedly used by the 9/11 suicide pilots, and he has confirmed to reporters that “in terms of political agenda items, my faith informs these things.”

It was in 2000 that Ellison joined Bernardine Dohrn, one of the founders of the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground, and several other speakers at a fundraiser for then-recently arrested Kathleen Soliah, a.k.a. Sara Jane Olson of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Soliah and other members of the 1970s domestic-terrorist group were later convicted for placing bombs under police cars and murdering a woman during a bank robbery.

On Tuesday, Ellison attempted to further clarify his Reichstag statement by telling the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he was making the point that “in the aftermath of a tragedy, space is opened up for governments to take action that they could not have achieved before that.”

When asked for examples of such Nazi-like action in the wake of 9/11, Ellison cited the Iraq war, certain provisions of the Patriot Act and Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence.

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