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City official criticizes foe's ethnic background

City official criticizes foe's ethnic background

Author: Associated Press
Publication: St. Petersburg Times
Date: November 3, 2005
URL: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/03/State/City_official_critici.shtml

An Orange City council member says, "I don't want an Indian in my government."

A City Council member, referring to the 2001 terrorism attacks, said his election rival's Indian background makes him suspect.

Don Sherrill derided challenger Tom Abraham's accent at a retirement community forum last month. Later, in a newspaper interview, Sherrill said voters in this city of about 7,200, 30 miles north of Orlando, wouldn't support Abraham if they saw and heard him.

"I'm usually not prejudiced, but I don't want an Indian in my government," Sherrill, 69, told the Orlando Sentinel. "As far as I know, he could be a nice guy, but these kind of people get embedded over here. . . . You remember 9/11."

Abraham, who learned English at age 5 and taught the language at a university in India, said he wasn't angry about the remarks or the comparison to the terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It is not a very intelligent comment," said Abraham, 60, a political newcomer.

None of the terrorists in the Sept. 11 attacks were from India. Most were from Saudi Arabia, and all were Muslim extremists. Abraham is Christian.

In a followup interview with the Sentinel last week, Sherrill backpedaled, saying he has been under stress and that he was just repeating what he has heard.

Sherrill's colleagues on the council said they were stunned by his statements.

"I didn't know there was a prerequisite for what an Orange City council member should look like," member Jeff Allebach said.


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