Last updated: 12 november, 2010 - 14:45 GMT

America's first Muslim Congressman

Keith Ellison. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

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In 2006, Keith Ellison attracted international attention when he became the first Muslim American to be elected to the US House of Representatives.

In the recent mid-term elections he was re-elected with a large majority in a strong Democrat seat.

Keith was born and raised in Detroit as the third of five sons.

His mother was a social worker and his father a psychiatrist.

Although his mother brought her children up as Roman Catholics, he became a Muslim, and one of his brothers is now a Baptist preacher.

It was at a family Thanksgiving dinner when he had to turn down his mother's ham that he revealed to the family that he had converted.

Even though his grandfather died before he was born, he was a big influence on Keith's life. He played an active role in the civil rights movement, fighting against racial segregation.

Ellison went on to law school, and got a job with a corporate firm in a Minneapolis skyscraper.

He then decided to devote himself to social justice and became the director of a legal rights centre.

Eventually Keith decided he could do more for his community by going into politics, and in 2006 he was elected to the House of Representatives as the first Muslim American Congressman.

When he was sworn-in in 2007, it was with one hand on Thomas Jefferson's Koran.

Keith Ellison spoke to Outlook's Lucy Ash and told her about his inspiring personal journey into politics.

Keith Ellison (left) with Barack Obama. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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