The GOP candidate argues that Islam is not like other religions.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is not likely to win the support of the nation’s Islamic communities any time soon. Earlier this year the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO said that if elected he wouldn’t appoint a Muslim to his administration or the federal bench, which he later modified. Now he’s saying that communities have a right to ban mosques.
“Let’s go back to the fundamental issue. Islam is both a religion and a set of laws—Sharia laws,” Cain said. “That’s the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it's just about religious purposes."
Sharia provides a framework for spiritual and ethical guidance that most Muslims follow although different sects have different interpretations of the code.
Muslims have practiced their religion in Murfreesboro for decades, but opponents of the planned mosque say that it is part of an effort to expand Islamic extremism in the U.S. Cain clearly sided with the protesters Sunday, stating that it is not being built for “religious purposes.”
Cain also said that it would not be discriminatory to take a more cautious look at Muslims applying for positions in his administration.
“I'm willing to take a harder look at people who might be terrorists, that's what I’m saying. Look, I know that there’s a peaceful group of Muslims in this country. God bless them and they're free to worship. If you look at my career I have never discriminated against anybody, because of their religion, sex or origin or anything like that,” he said. “I’m simply saying I owe it to the American people to be cautious because terrorists are trying to kill us. So yes I’m going to err on the side of caution rather than on the side of carelessness.”
Imam Ossama Bahloul, who heads the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, issued a statement Sunday bemoaning Cain's statements, The Associated Press reports.
“It is sad to hear these words coming from a GOP presidential candidate, who is not only supposed to believe in but should also uphold the U.S. constitution,” Bahloul said. “Mr. Cain is encouraged to educate himself about the first amendment and learn more about our peaceful and productive Muslim community in Murfreesboro.”
(Photo: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang/LANDOV)