West issues apology for anti-Muslim post
By Brian Justice, staff writer
A recent Facebook posting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West called “How to Wink at a Muslim,” showing a man in a cowboy hat pointing a side-by-side double barrel shotgun at the camera, could have a positive twist.
The story about West’s Facebook post soon went viral, spreading across the Internet like wildfire, garnering attention from dozens of news sites and blogs worldwide, including Untied Press International and the British newspaper The Daily Mail .
West’s posting inflamed Muslims and others but has also drawn sympathy and support for him in Facebook posted comments about the situation.
Zak Mohyuddin, a Tullahoma Muslim, told The Tullahoma News Thursday he called West to meet to smooth things out.
“I’ll give him credit,” Mohyuddin said, referring to West. “The way he was talking with me, he seems very sorry … Maybe something good will come out of this.”
Mohyuddin said he hopes West and others will develop a better understanding about Muslims.
He said West also expressed an interest in talking with local Muslims to gain further insight into their culture.
Mohyuddin said he appreciates how Coffee County Mayor David Pennington had made apologetic comments on West’s behalf.
Mohyuddin requested that county leaders take a more active role in opening the door to get Muslims more involved with local civic groups so the public may develop a more thorough understanding of their culture.
West had apologized on Facebook:
“I wish to issue a heartfelt sincere apology to anyone I have offended or hurt in my sharing of the Facebook picture,” he said.
Mohyuddin said West has received phone calls criticizing him for his actions.
Mohyuddin requested that residents stop calling him and leave him alone.
“I’m asking that he not be called anymore,” he said. “He’s apologized. He’s done all he can.”
West, who represents Manchester’s Commission District 11, said Tuesday he found the image and statement on Facebook and posted it (on Saturday) because “I thought it was humorous.”