- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Muslim candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates was targeted by a protester who held a sign with an anti-Islam message and wore a T-shirt with the slogan, “This mind is an Allah-free zone.”

Montgomery County police sent a trespass notification form to Timothy Truett after the Saturday incident, warning him that he would be subject to arrest on trespassing charges if he steps onto Saqib Ali’s property within the next year.

Mr. Truett, 46, of Montgomery Village, sat in a folding chair on the cul-de-sac outside Mr. Ali’s Gaithersburg home, which doubles as his campaign office, about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, holding the sign and wearing the shirt.

Mr. Ali said he came outside when he was told about the protester and took several pictures but refused to speak to Mr. Truett, an account that Mr. Truett confirmed.

“It was basically an experiment,” Mr. Truett said yesterday. “I had heard that Muslims were generally intolerant of views other than their own, and so I thought I would put it to the test. I wanted to see what would happen.”

He hoped Mr. Ali would talk to him.

“We steadfastly refused to engage him in conversation,” Mr. Ali said. “We took a lot of photographs, and he got agitated after a while because we weren’t answering him.”

Mr. Truett got up to leave, and Mr. Ali followed him to his car and took pictures of his license tags. Mr. Truett phoned Mr. Ali’s office after he left, but Mr. Ali hung up on him.

Mr. Truett had made an earlier phone call to Mr. Ali’s office in which he asked whether Mr. Ali was a Muslim and made derogatory remarks about Islam to Mr. Ali’s campaign manager.

Although Mr. Truett acknowledges he has a negative opinion of Islam, he said he did not think the sign or the T-shirt expressed a message of hate.

“It’s an opinion,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically hateful about it.”

Mr. Ali said he was insulted by the “offensive” slogans, and he contacted police. He said he did not get the impression that Mr. Truett wanted to start a constructive dialogue.

“We don’t waste our time talking to people who hate us,” Mr. Ali said.

Although Mr. Ali, a Democrat, would become the first Muslim member of the House of Delegates if elected, he has not made his religion a major tenet of his campaign. He primarily is concerned with growth in Montgomery, which he says has outpaced the county’s infrastructure.

Mr. Ali is a long-shot challenger to three incumbent Democrats in District 39 — Charles Barkley, Nancy J. King and Joan F. Stern — all of whom are seeking re-election.

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