Supporters rally around Ramadan after protest
While many elected officials might balk at attending a political event where the candidate’s opponents were holding a protest across the street, supporters of House of Delegates hopeful David Ramadan overflowed from the banquet room at Tuscarora Mill restaurant in Leesburg Aug. 10.
The Lebanese-born Ramadan is seeking the Republican nomination for the 87th District of the House of Delegates. This district was moved during the 2011 redistricting process and now represents sections of both Loudoun and Prince William counties.
A regular volunteer with the Loudoun Republican committee, Ramadan has been a supporter of other candidates in past campaigns. During the event, he reminisced about 5 a.m. tours with former chairman Glen Caroline putting up campaign signs before the election.
The attendees at the meet-and-greet event were also treated to words from Ed Meese, a member of Ronald Regan’s cabinet, former Attorney General and member of the Iraq Study Group and currently on the board of the Heritage Foundation.
Ramadan became acquainted with Meese after being appointed to the George Mason University Board of Visitors, where Meese had formerly served.
Speaking of Ramadan, Meese told the assembled “He is an outstanding person to provide the leadership that this county and this commonwealth needs … he is right on the issues.”
Meese spoke at length to an attentive crowd on the subjects of limited government and maintaining a low tax rate. Of course, many of the attendees asked questions regarding what Reagan was like to work with, and Meese provided several examples both of wit and mischief.
Meese commented on the size of the crowd “to show the kind of unity you have in Loudoun County that is going to put this county over the top.”
Ramadan’s opponent for the 87th District is Jo-Ann Chase.
But across the street…
While many local Republicans were gathered to support Ramadan, a press conference demanding more information from the candidate was occurring across the street in front of the Loudoun County Government Center.
Speakers included Frank Gaffney, a Washington Times columnist, Kent Clizbe, a former covert CIA officer, Kerry Patton, a former intelligence officer and Nagi N. Najjar, a Lebanese Orthodox Christian who has aided the government on terrorism-related issues.
“I know there are Muslims that are good Muslims, I know there are Muslims that are willing to make the same sacrifices for this fine nation as any non-Muslims, so this is a not a non-Islamic bash on anybody,” Patton said. “But what we do need to understand is Americans as a whole, we’re pretty damn ignorant about what goes on around us.
“If I had to ask him one question – it would be who are you, and why are you here?” Kent Clizbe said. “Mr. Ramadan is hiding something.”
Most speakers shared concerns regarding Ramadan’s ties to his homeland. Ramadan, a naturalized American citizen, was born in Lebanon. Ramadan speaks regularly of his upbringing, particularly of seeing the wreckage of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut.
When asked about how his family overcame anti-American sentiment in the area at that time, Ramadan later told the Times-Mirror, “It was my upbringing. I had an excellent father. He practiced law and refused to participate in the lawlessness and the religious divide. He sent us to Christian schools and we grew up on Christian values. We did not fall into that stupidity.”
Ramadan immigrated to the United States in 1989, graduating from George Mason University and pursuing graduate study at Oxford University, John Hopkins University, University of Maryland and Georgetown University.
During the press conference, Clizbe focused on Ramadan’s first wife Ghanda Abdul Rahman Zoghbi, whose father supposedly had contacts with the Lebanese army.
For Ramadan, this is a non-issue, “It lasted less than a year. We divorced. She went back. I never had interaction with her since then, since 1995.”
The other major criticism to Ramadan regarded his signing of what, some consider, a support for the construction of the Ground Zero mosque. Similar accusations were made at a protest outside the Loudoun County Republican Committee meeting where Ramadan announced his candidacy, although most of his supporters felt that the letter did not call for the mosque’s construction, but instead called for civility in the debate.
When asked about his feelings when confronted with protests questioning his heritage and loyalty, Ramadan said, “I’ve always been a believer in the Constitution. God bless our First Amendment that gives them the right to say what they want to say, I enjoy that freedom. But to then use that right to make up lies is unacceptable.”
During his remarks at his own press conference, Ramadan began by saying “I am proud and honored to be an American citizen. I am honored to be a Virginian.”
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