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Novstrup Embarrasses Aberdeen on National Radio with Debunked Sharia Rumor

Speaking of religious and political ignorance, Rep. Al Novstrup represents Aberdeen on the latest This American Life broadcast. The broadcast features comments Rep. Novstrup made August 11 immediately after the first crypto-Klan meeting held by Ron Branstner in our fair city. Rep. Novstrup remained silent at that meeting when his neighbors attacked me, but he had no problem talking to reporter Zoe Chace about his fear of Sharia Law… and telling her she needs to read more:

Zoe Chace: In this hotel ballroom in Aberdeen, South Dakota, people aren’t interested in a debate over the economics of immigration. This is a conversation about fear.

The most memorable conversation I had was with the State Rep. Al Novstrup. He’s been in state government for fourteen years, and he came to this meeting to get more information on Sharia Law potentially taking over his city, like it has other places, he says.

ZC: Like where?

Novstrup billboard, 4th and Dakota, Aberdeen, SD.
I’m looking for the reason and respect in Al’s comments here….

Al Novstrup: Dearborn, Michigan.

ZC: Have you seen that happen there?

AN: I haven’t been to Dearborn, Michigan.

ZC: From my perspective as a national reporter, there’s still the Constitution. There’s no Sharia anywhere.

AN: You don’t think there’s Sharia anywheres, in the United States?

ZC: Correct.

AN: I think you need to read more.

ZC: I do read.

AN: You don’t think there’s Sharia anyplace in the United States. You don’t—you don’t think—wow. O.K. You don’t think there’s Sharia—I’m just blown away. We’re living in two different planets [Zoe Chace, “Will I Know Anyone at This Party?This American Life, 2016.10.28].

Here, Al. Read:

A satirical website called the National Report intentionally made up an article for entertainment purposes on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 about the City of Dearborn enacting sharia law over the weekend. The article is false; Dearborn is not under sharia law and has never at any time even considered such an action.

“Dearborn has never been, nor ever will be, under sharia law. We are governed by the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Michigan and the City of Dearborn Charter,” said Mayor [John B.] O’Reilly.

…“The National Report is not a news site, but is only pretending to be one. Its purpose is entertainment. In this case, its outrageous story, with no basis in fact, has ended up fooling people in part because it mirrors allegations made by others in the past with less than humorous intentions,” said Mayor O’Reilly.

…“It is in human nature to fear the unknown, which can lead to hate and attempts to deny the rights of others. But in Dearborn, that fear of the unknown is mitigated because leaders of many faiths regularly come together for dialogue and to celebrate the significant events of each others’ religions,” he said.

“We invite people to learn more about the real Dearborn,” Mayor O’Reilly said. “We want people to know we represent the best of America, our traditions and values, including following the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution” [City of Dearborn, press release, October 2013, retrieved 2016.10.30].

State legislator peddles a three-year-old joke as fact; a national reporter and a local political opponent each debunk it without breaking a sweat.

Faced with these facts, instead of bashing people who don’t share his religious beliefs, Rep. Novstrup should immediately take back his false statement about Sharia Law in Dearborn, apologize to reporter Chace for questioning her intelligence and research, and apologize to the people of South Dakota for perpetuating a false and harmful lie.


  1. mike from iowa 2016-10-30

    Yeah,but…… Cory is an avowed AND admitted ATHEIST!! Where’s your constitution now reporter?

  2. Rorschach 2016-10-30

    It must be true. He saw it on the internet. What a goof!

    You won’t find this story on South Dakota’s #2 Political Website.

  3. owen reitzel 2016-10-30

    I wonder if Mr. Norvstrup always does this much research when he is in Pierre?

  4. grudznick 2016-10-30

    Mr. reitzel, I believe the former Senator’s name is Mr. Novstrup. But I, too, wonder if he’s often so busy with researching bills and meeting and listening to his constituents that it takes away from some of his time for giving speeches on the floors. I am sure there are many challenges for a man in a leadership position in the legislatures.

  5. grudznick 2016-10-30

    Mr. Rorschach, that’s a belly chuckle indeed. Yes, just like much read here, it must be true because it is on the internet.

  6. owen reitzel 2016-10-30

    I’m guessing Mr NOVSTRUP doesn’t do a whole lot of research. This is an example.

  7. grudznick 2016-10-30

    Perhaps you are right, Mr. reitzel, but I can’t say I understand this Sharia law business. It seems like a religious thing that would never take root here and our legislatures would not pass it. It is silly to discuss it.

  8. owen reitzel 2016-10-30

    I tend to agree with Grudz and I don’t think Sharia Law will take root here.. I don’t think that’s the point here. Mr. Novstrup’s showed his lack of research by by not checking if Sharia Law had taken over the city of Dearborn.
    Simply checking is all he would have had to do, but he didn’t do it. But if he did check but decided to spread fear in Aberdeen anyway, well that’s a different matter.
    But if he was too lazy to check on something as easy to find out as this what will he do in Pierre?

  9. grudznick 2016-10-30

    I could see Mr. Novstrup and many other in the legislatures getting tricked by things on the youtubes and other stories on the internet. They are tricky sometimes to understand, so mostly I just don’t believe any of them. I got fooled a lot when I first got a computer.

  10. mike from iowa 2016-10-30

    The only Sharia law in this country is what right wing nutters are trying to force on all of us. Their brand of kristianity that most don’t adhere to to begin with.

  11. mike from iowa 2016-10-30

    ps isn’t it so wingnut like to act condescending to a female reporter like No Stirrup did?

  12. Chuck-Z 2016-10-30

    Funny that the state of Michigan would surrender Dearborn like that. You’d think we’d have some sort of travel or legal warnings or something. Can you conceal carry in a Sharia city? Will they burn my bible if I don’t hide it well enough?

    It is insane to me a state Senator believes such nonsense. How would Sharia law get past the state, the legal system, the feds, etc? You’d think he’d have some sort of clue as to how laws are made, being in that business and all.

  13. Spike 2016-10-30

    AN goes to Bransters freak show to learn how to defend Aberdeen from Sharia law? Dearborn is a town in Saudi Arabia? Then ostracized Ms. Chace for not reading enough?

    14 years in state government huh Novstrup?

    Were the heck were you when Joop (blonde immigrant) robbed us?

    So the saying goes….you can’t make this stuff up.

    Go Cory

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-30

    (Spike: Joop’s hair is dark. ;-) )

  15. leslie 2016-10-30

    this conspiracy idiocy on republican’s parts is beyond silly. I’ve got 9 flying saucers back engineered by area 51 S4 scientists trying to understand advanced materials and propulsion for al to consider

  16. Roger Cornelius 2016-10-30

    Public servant have a responsibility to read and research major issues of the day and learn the facts related to those issues. They have different interpretations of their research, but it is their obligation to report the facts. It is not that difficult to fact check what is on the internet unless you choose to be gullible.
    It is disturbing that Al chooses to scare his constituents just so can win a place in state government.
    Why he chooses to place fear in the hearts of our senior citizens and others that maybe challenged intellectually is or should be a great concern to all.
    A true leader learns the facts and if there is a reason to be concerned about our safety tries to calm the public by being reasonable.
    We have seen that kind of leadership exhibited over the past 8 years by President Obama, he never panicked or had a crisis that caused us to run and hide from our shadows.

  17. Adam 2016-10-30

    Novstrup demonstrates a pathetic and gross misunderstanding of religious freedom and the constitution in the U.S.

    After looking at this, you gotta wonder about the great many other things he must not understand. He would be embarrassed if he were capable of knowing how wrong he was/is.

  18. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2016-10-30

    I heard The Onion is Al’s favorite news source.

    Cory, great job on KELO tonight!

    By the way, what are the London oddsmakers saying about your race, Cory? The reason why I ask is because your opponent has an uncanny resemblance to Pete Rose with glasses…. :-)

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-31

    Mike, you do well to notice Al’s condescension toward a female reporter… especially when it turns out she has the facts and he doesn’t.

    Roger, I agree completely, it is irresponsible for an elected official to play along with false fears. Al should be out there today telling his constituents, “I was wrong. Dearborn isn’t run by Sharia. There’s no evidence that any other American city is run by Sharia. As the mayor of Dearborn says, laws and the Constitution prevent any community from enacting Sharia.”

    Adam, yes, willful ignorance on one issue raises concerns about willful ignorance on other issues.

    John KC, I put the odds at 1:1, even money. Place your bets… or better yet, cast your votes!

  20. Darin Larson 2016-10-31

    I still catch myself wondering, did I actually hear a SD legislator disrespect a reporter on national radio and claim that Sharia law is in effect in Dearborn, Michigan? No, I must have been dreaming.

    Yes, folks, this explains a lot about our legislature. I am embarrassed for our state.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-31

    So Darin, what do you think the chances are that anyone in the South Dakota media will follow up and ask Novstrup if he will retract his false statements, or if he will attend the next Branstner meeting and tell the audience they are mistaken about the presence of Sharia Law in America?

  22. Steve W. 2016-10-31

    I heard this yesterday, and today looked at all the South Dakota media outlets that I thought may be interested. Not a word.

    As a journalist myself, if I heard a state legislator making baseless remarks in a national forum – you’d better believe I’d follow up on it.

    Please tell me someone in local media has reported on this.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-31

    I agree, Steve. We get news stories when regular South Dakotans get a moment on The Price Is Right or other national programs. I’d think SD Public Broadcasting would boost the story to boost interest in their own programming, not to mention addressing a matter of public interest. I don’t see anything in the local paper about Novstrup’s error… but we do have a big feature on the “Wild Dakota Girls” fundraising calendar. Priorities….

  24. Bobby Kolbe 2016-10-31

    Tis better to remain silent and appear intelligent than to speak and remove ALL doubt .

  25. Darin Larson 2016-10-31

    Cory, I think there is a very small chance that any SD media will followup with Novstrup. I would love it if they would prove me wrong. Maybe the next time the Branstner hate group meets in Aberdeen they can get it in the news that Novstrup thinks Sharia law is in effect in Michigan. But what percentage of the Novstrup electorate actually thinks the same thing?

    My guess is that the mainstream media in South Dakota does not have the appetite for confronting the powers that be. Puff pieces offer more job security. The low swimming whale doesn’t get harpooned.

  26. Hogan 2016-10-31

    CAH don’t you think we should cut Al some slack? The guy is busy running his business across a few different cities and he can’t be on top of every subject can he? Mistakes can happen.

    We were told at the dinner party you don’t even have a job and have much more time to campaign and be up to date on more issues than Al.

  27. Adam 2016-10-31

    Yeah, sure, give Novstrup a break for misrepresenting/misunderstanding the U.S. Constitution – all because the dude owns a business.

    Please. I run two businesses and I have never felt compelled to use that as an excuse for being wrong about anything.

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-31

    Interesting, Hogan! Who hosted that dinner party, and who made that comment?

    So tell me: isn’t being up to date on issues a reason to elect a guy Senator? :-)

    I’ll be more than happy to give Al more time to run his Sioux Falls business. But cut him slack for insisting on a falsehood used to stir xenophobia? No.

  29. Adam 2016-10-31

    Even worse yet, using it as an excuse for one’s unwillingness to apologize.

    Heck with that!

  30. Hogan 2016-10-31

    CAH I will get to the dinner party on the other thread.

    AL obviously made a mistake and has learned from it. I know your trying to win the race but you sure seem to be reaching and petty about it.

  31. Roger Cornelius 2016-10-31

    It doesn’t matter one damn bit what your day job is, if you choose to represent the people of District 3 and the state of South Dakota you have an obligation to know the issues.

    For those that would like to get the attention of the media on this and other issues, use the information bar at the bottom of the blog and email reporters this post.

    And remember you can share Cory’s on Facebook and Twitter.

    Going into the final week of the campaign, it is imperative that we share as much information as possible using all forms available to us.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-31

    Whoa—reaching? Al made a patently false statement that contributes to the xenophobia of the Klan meetings. What evidence is there that Al has admitted his mistake and learned from it? Has he made any public comment about his statements in the TAL interview? I don’t think it’s petty to point out that a state legislator is promulgating fiction as fact on which he seems to base his policy decisions, and I don’t think it’s petty to ask for an admission from that legislator that he erred.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-31

    Roger, thank you for that call to action!

    Note also that Al has Facebook accounts. He hasn’t posted anything online about his false public statements. He can do so at any moment, if he is interested, for no more cost than the time it takes him to type. He wouldn’t have to wait for the press to pick up the story.

    He can also come on the radio Friday afternoon, KSDN 4 p.m., at the invitation of Don Briscoe, to discuss this matter and everything else that might be on the minds of District 3 voters. That radio show would be a perfect opportunity to tell the Branstner Klansters to dial their rhetoric back and check their sources.

  34. Adam 2016-10-31

    Recently, I heard that behind closed doors Donald Trump apologized to his inner circle for the things he completely misunderstood about politics over the years – and he’s really learned his lesson. Too bad it’s just hearsay until the guy actually apologizes to the people he’s offended – like a real grownup.

  35. Darin Larson 2016-10-31

    Hogan says “CAH don’t you think we should cut Al some slack? The guy is busy running his business across a few different cities and he can’t be on top of every subject can he? Mistakes can happen.”

    WAIT A MINUTE! Al Novstrup has time to go to hate group meetings that last for hours, but we should cut him some slack because he is too busy to know THAT SHARIA LAW HAS NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN!

    When questioned by the NPR reporter, Novstrup does not back away from the claim, but belittles the reporter for not knowing this absurdly false fact. Cut this guy some slack you say? He goes to a hate group meeting, doesn’t know the first darn thing about Sharia law in America, belittles a reporter, and espouses a patently absurd, fear mongering, anti-Muslim falsehood. But we should cut him some slack because you say he is busy? The heck you say. As Jack Nicholson said, “Go sell crazy somewhere else–we’re all full up here.”

    Hogan says “We were told at the dinner party you don’t even have a job and have much more time to campaign and be up to date on more issues than Al.” What a back-handed compliment! Cory has time to be up on the issues? What person is qualified to be a state legislator if they are not “up on the issues?” If Novstrup doesn’t have time to know and understand that Sharia Law is not in effect in Dearborn, Michigan, then he doesn’t have time to be an informed legislator and he should just stick to deregulating his industry on his own time.

    Only in SD is it considered a virtue to be clueless on the issues because you were too busy running your own business. And don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to be clueless. It is a free country. But if you are running for the legislature, you are not entitled to be clueless–it only seems that way sometimes to the citizenry. And you are certainly not entitled to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment with false statements to a national audience.

  36. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-11-01

    Adam, if an apology falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it really make a sound?

  37. Adam 2016-11-01

    You gotta infer that Hogan was also gullible enough to fall for the lies about Sharia Law taking precedence over the U.S. Constitution right here in the U.S.

    Hogan, like Novstrup, is as gullible as it gets. Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of people like Hogan giving a pass to legislators like Novstrup in the face of their flagrant offensive statements about non-Christians and grave misunderstandings on how America and the world actually works.

    If you ever believed the lies about Sharia Law trumping the U.S. Constitution anywhere in the U.S. then you are a damn fool and you have some soul searching to do.

  38. Hogan 2016-11-01

    Adam not once did I believe that Sharia Law was in effect here in the US. AL has a job and owns a business which employs people and provides customers with a service being entertainment. He does not have time all day with no job to surf the web and keep knowledgeable on every single subject out there.

    Al was not the only one duped. Plenty of our Hub City area neighbors were duped too. We are cutting Al some slack while looking at the big picture that he is the best candidate to represent the Hub City area & send to Pierre in this election.

  39. Craig 2016-11-01

    Hogan – if Novstrup is making claims about Sharia Law being in the US, then he has a duty to ensure those claims are accurate. If he is so busy that he doesn’t have time to fact check his own words, then he doesn’t have time to go to meetings that would fill his head with even more concepts he doesn’t have the time to research nor does he have the time to travel to Pierre and use his lack of research to pass legislation.

    What you seem to be suggesting is that he is too busy to do the work of a legislator. Seems like there is an easy solution to that problem… don’t run for public office.

    Do we really want to elect people who don’t have the time to research topics before they open their mouths and spout inaccuracies about them? Better yet, do we want to elect people who are proven wrong yet don’t bother to admit their errors or apologize to those they have insulted?

    Ah who am I kidding – he fits the mold of a typical politician. Doesn’t bother to do research, insults others who disagree, and refuses to apologize when proven wrong. Such amazing leadership!

  40. Adam 2016-11-01

    I do not believe that any person with enough wherewithal (to inherently know, at first glance, that the lies about Sharia Law were actually lies) could ever be so forgiving to a state legislator who bought into and propagated them.

    Tell yourself whatever you want to hear – to keep on voting Republican. You can even lie to yourself if you want to, but keep in mind that you are just kidding yourself.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-11-01

    We shouldn’t have to cut legislators slack on basic matters of fact that can be verified with minimal research.

    I’m also still waiting for Al’s public retraction of and apology for his false public statements.

  42. bearcreekbat 2016-11-01

    No time to research indeed! Perhaps a quick read of the First Amendment to the US Constitution would have helped him understand that our government cannot impose any sort of religious law, including Sharia in Dearborn. Last I heard Dearborn is still part of the USA.

  43. mike from iowa 2016-11-01

    No Stirrup knows enough to have an R behind his name and hopes he can skate into office with votes from people who don’t care he doesn’t know what is going on. Low info voters keep wingnuts employed.

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