Suburban trustee defends anti-Muslim Facebook posts, says its her First Amendment right

PALOS HILLS, Ill. -- Palos residents are calling for the resignation of a township trustee after she wrote posts on social media that are being called “anti-Muslim.”

Trustee Sharon Brannigan says she was just exercising her First Amendment rights to free speech.

In one post she asks, “Why are all our schools filling with Middle East students without proper documentation?”

In another she says “Muslims don’t integrate and keep their activities hidden.”

And in yet another she applauded the First Lady for not wearing a headscarf while she was overseas.

Brannigan says she was forced to delete her Facebook page because of all the hate mail she was receiving. She says her florist business has also been targeted.

But she says is not ashamed of anything she posted and does not plan to resign her position.

“Everything I posted is covered under the 1st Amendment,” she says. “I think it’s the 85 pound gorilla in the room. You know there’s an issue here and now it’s coming down to us being taxed even more.”

Branngian has been an elected Palos Township trustee since 2013.

But Muslim residents say her views on taxation are just a front for her real feelings and that she doesn’t like people who are different.

“No elected official should be speaking about her constituency her residency in such language,” says Nareman Taha, co-founder and director of Arab American family services and Palos Township resident.

“It’s clearly racist. It’s clearly anti-Arab and Islamophobic,” says Hatem Abudayyeh, Executive Director of Arab American Action Network. “And she’s emboldened because we have a racist, and a homophobe and a sexist in the White House.”

Brannigan says she has been posting similar sentiments for the last five years. And while illegal immigration might be a sensitive topic, it needs to be discussed openly.  She says she is not anti-Muslim.  She is "an advocate for the taxpayer.”

“They are taking services from the taxpayer that is and always has been an issue,” Brannigan says.

Brannigan says she will be here to make a statement at a board meeting tonight. Protestors say they will also be there to greet her.