A Tennessee politician, Coffee County Commissioner Barry West, is under fire this week after posting a photo on his Facebook page of a cowboy aiming a rifle, with the caption “How to wink at a Muslim.”
The American Muslim Advisory Council, an organization that serves as a bridge between the Tennessee Muslim community and local law enforcement, expressed outrage over the publicly displayed message, saying “Such hate is unacceptable” and demanding an apology.
“This is a hate-filled post targeted at Muslims and is not acceptable from anyone, let alone someone holding public office!” the organization said in a public letter to Coffee County government officials, according to a screenshot from BuzzFeed.
West commented on the photo, stating he was trying to make a point regarding the future of the U.S. and admitted to being discriminatory.
“I’m prejudiced against anyone who’s trying to tear down this country; Muslims, Mexicans, anybody. If you come into this country illegally or harm us or take away benefits, I’m against it,” West told The Tullahoma News Tuesday.
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Despite the backlash, West insists the photo was intended to be a joke.
“I thought it was humorous,” said West.
Coffee County Mayor David Pennington, however, responded with an apology.
“…I apologize to the Muslim people. I have no control over what the commissioners do outside of public meetings,” said Pennington. “I personally wouldn’t have done it. I have a great relationship with the Muslim community.”
West is classified as a Democrat on the Coffee County commissioner’s information page.