"How to wink at a Muslim" image goes viral... and not in a good way

A Tennessee official has landed in hot water after sharing an anti-Muslim "joke" on his Facebook feed

by Phoenix on 1 May 2013 16:33

Barry West, a commissioner for Coffee County, Tennessee, has reached a level of notoreity not previously known to his position.

West, has been under fire (pun intended) over the past 24 hours for an Islamophobic Facebook joke that involves a double-barreled shotgun and the phrase, "How to wink at a Muslim".

He posted the image (right) to his Facebook timeline, where Muslim activists found it. And West's home phone number.

Tensions have run high between Muslims and the wider community in Mid-Tennessee since the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro was met with gunshots, bomb threats and arson attempts.

West made clear what he thought of Qu'ran believers when a local paper contacted him to ask about the Facebook image.

The Tullahoma News reports:

West, who represents Manchester’s District 11, said Tuesday he found the image and statement on Facebook and posted it because “I thought it was humorous.”

West was asked by The News if he is prejudiced toward Muslims.

“I’m prejudiced against anyone who’s trying to tear down this country, Muslims, Mexicans, anybody,” he said. “If you come into this country illegally or harm us or take away benefits, I’m against it.”

West took down the post after that interview.

And no the man in the picture is not Mr. West. In an interview. West argued that he was a victim: "[N]o I did not create this picture … yes I shared it … so why am I being singled out?"

Gawker reports:

Activists, led by the American Center for Outreach, waged a swift social media campaign to spread news of West's post and comments. West's voice mail was subsequently flooded with messages.

Mayor David Pennington said, "As the Mayor of Coffee County I apologise to the Muslim people. I have no control over what the commissioners do outside of public meetings," Pennington wrote. "I personally wouldn't have done it, I have a great relationship with the Muslim community."

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