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Ron Seals

An advocacy organization for Muslims says it will ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate an East Tennessee sheriff who said last week that he believes President Barack Obama "belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood" and told attendees at a meeting to report members of the Muslim community who were "aggressive in local restaurants."

Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals on Monday acknowledged the comments attributed to him by The Mountain Press newspaper late last week. Seals said the conversation about the county's Muslim community was just a small part of an Aug. 25 Sevier County Tea Party meeting, and not the "frequent" references to Muslims as reported by the newspaper and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"It's very unfortunate that an elected official could make a statement like that, especially one who keeps people safe," said Tarek El-Messidi, a spokesman for the Muslim Community of Knoxville. "Any Muslim who lives in Sevier County or East Tennessee would be concerned or even threatened by those statements."

On Monday, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said he plans to urge other Tennessee sheriffs to keep a close eye on Islamic activity.

"Islam is communism with a god," he said, likening the religion to communism in the 1950s.

Read more from our news partners at KnoxNews.com.

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