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.
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.