A St. Paul council member under pressure over past comments he has made that were anti-LGBTQ has called for "understanding and compassion" for his religious beliefs.
Kassim Busuri, a Somali-American who is the interim councilor for Ward 6, has found himself in the spotlight after a series of old Facebook posts led to accusations of homophobia.
One of them included a 2014 comment "That's why I'm going back to Uganda" after he shared a story about the Ugandan president signing an anti-homosexuality bill into law.
He also wrote "I'll have to go and buy some Pasta Barilla now" after the pasta company's CEO said in an interview: "I would never do an advert with a homosexual family."
Busuri initially claimed in an interview with the Pioneer Press that those criticizing him are guilty of Islamophobia.
But in a statement issued on Monday, Busuri said: "As more members of the Somali community become active in the Democratic Party and process, a level of understanding and compassion should be reached for those who fully practice Islam.
"Equally, there should be a level of understanding and compassion to be reached for those from the LGBTQ community. Condemning someone for past comments is not the answer."
"The answer lies within our collective groups to come together and have difficult, but meaningful conversation," he added. "I do not and will not discriminate against anyone and I will do all I can within my power to recognize the humanity in each of us and bring people together."
Busuri was named the interim council member for Ward 6 this past January, but has been facing calls to step down in the wake of his comments.
The LGBTQ and youth caucuses of the Minnesota DFL has called for his resignation, saying they were "shocked and insulted" by his comments.