Forwarded e-mail upsets Islamic groups

FRANKFORT TOWNSHIP, Ill. An e-mail forwarded by a public official in Frankfort is stirring up controversy in the southwest suburbs. The e-mail was sent by the Frankfort Township assessor. He says his political enemies are behind the public disclosure. Some say, politics or not, the message is intolerant.

The Frankfort Township Assessor Paul Ruff was unavailable for an interview Wednesday Ruff tells ABC7 News by phone that he will call a press conference next week to address an e-mail he sent out that's drawing criticism.

Tuesday night, some south suburban religious leaders gathered at the American Islamic Center of Frankfort. They voiced concern about an e-mail they say included an anti-Islamic sentiment.

"Never in my 35 years of being involved with this community have we had such an opinion expressed by a political official," said Afzal Ahmad, American Islamic Association of Frankfort.

"To see somebody talking against us, because it's the whole community as one," said Tasneem Abbasi, resident.

Also present at Tuesday night's meeting was an assessor from a nearby township.

"I was astounded of the comments. And I just want to make sure everybody knew that that was his own personal comment," said Rich Kelly , Orland Township assessor.

Assessor Ruff tells us he forwarded an e-mail to friends from his home e-mail, and while he agrees with most of the sentiments in it, he believes someone leaked the e-mail for political reasons.

The executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Chicago is concerned about the situation.

"We in the Muslim-American community are part of the American fabric and these kind of messages that speak to promote intolerance and suspicion are anti-American, not just anti-Muslim," said Ahmed Rehab, CAIR Chicago.

The Frankfort Township Supervisor Jim Moustis says someone forwarded Ruff's e-mail to him and he deleted it.

Moustis says there has been a mosque in Frankfort for over 20 years and that Muslim-Americans are a welcomed part of the community.

"This country is founded on diversity and tolerance, and so I think it's inappropriate to spread any word that is about intolerance," said Jim Moustis, Frankfort Township supervisor.

While the township supervisor has no authority over the assessor, supervisor Moustis hopes the assessor will issue an apology.

The assessor office is an elected position. The assessor is up for re-election in April.

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