Entries in Muslims (4)


Gingrich's Comparison of Muslims, Nazis Sparks Outrage

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's comments comparing Muslims to Nazis at the GOP debate Monday night have sparked a firestorm in the blogosphere, where liberals, and even some conservatives, have pounced on the former House speaker for what they view as excessive fear mongering.

"Of course Newt is taking it too far.  He is appealing to the basest instincts of a very small minority of folks," said Matthew Dowd, ABC News consultant who served as chief strategist on George W. Bush's 2004 re-election team.  "Either he is doing this for political purposes to distract people from a campaign in disarray, which is bad, or he actually believes it, which is scary."

At the New Hampshire debate Monday night, Gingrich responded to questions about loyalty tests for administration officials, saying, "The Pakistani who emigrated to the U.S., became a citizen, built a car bomb which luckily failed to go off in Times Square, was asked by the federal judge, how could he have done that when he signed and when he swore an oath to the United States.  And he looked at the judge and said, 'You're my enemy.  I lied.'"

"Now, I just want to go out on a limb here.  I'm in favor of saying to people, if you're not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period," Gingrich added to applause.

But Gingrich didn't stop there, despite an attempt by moderators to interject.  He compared hiring Muslims to how Americans dealt with Nazis in the 1940s.

"We did this in dealing with the Nazis.  We did this in dealing with the Communists.  And it was controversial both times and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country.  And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say, 'No,'" he concluded.

Many people have chastised Gingrich, whose senior aides resigned en masse last week, for invoking 1950s-era McCarthyism, a time during which free speech came under assault amid a heightened threat of Communism.  Muslim groups expressed outrage, saying Gingrich was merely exploiting Muslims for personal and political gain.

"It's really reprehensible when you have a mainstream presidential candidate equate Muslims with Nazis and communists," said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director at Council on American-Islamic Relations.  "It is what we've come to expect from the right wing of the political faction."

Although he might have created a firestorm, this isn't the first time Gingrich has made such a comparison and, to many, his most recent comments are anything but surprising.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Presidential Hopefuls Blast Sharia Law in Pre-Primary Rhetoric

Comstock/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican presidential hopefuls, eager to shore up support with primary voters, have unleashed a series of rhetorical attacks against Islamic law, or Sharia, in what is widely seen as an attempt to burnish their conservative credentials.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says his decision to shut down a state-sponsored mortgage program designed to appeal to devout Muslims -- who are forbidden by Sharia law to collect or pay interest on loans -- demonstrates his committment to rooting out Islamic law.

"As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue, he personally ordered it shut it down," Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant told Politico of the program.  "Fortunately, only about three people actually used the program before it was terminated at the governor's direction."

Herman Cain, another likely GOP presidential contender, said over the weekend that he would not appoint a Muslim to his administration or the federal courts because he believes all Muslims "force their Sharia law onto the rest of us."

"There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government," Cain, founder and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, told ThinkProgress.  "It does not belong in our government."

Former Pennsylvannia Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, both presumed Republican contenders, have also taken stands on Sharia, insisting Islamic law is incompatible with U.S. law and that it must be banned from recognition in courts across the country.

Sharia governs many aspects of Islamic private life, and influences legal codes in a number of predominantly Muslim countries.

Some American businesses offer Sharia friendly services to cater to Muslim clientele, and judges in some state courts are occasionally asked to consider an individual's Sharia observance when handling probate or family matters.

Any Islamic influence in the American marketplace or legal system, however, makes some people wary, and it's a dynamic the Republican candidates may be trying to tap into with their rhetoric, experts say.

The rhetoric "may fire up a few hardcore conservatives who are, I think, generally misinformed about Islamic law or Sharia law or Muslims in general," said Abdulwahid Qalinle, director of the Islamic Law and Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota Law School.

"But after the primaries, when the Republican candidate comes to mainstream voters, I think they will have to change the tactic," he said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Praises Muslims for Aiding Fight Against Terrorism

Comstock/Thinkstock(STERLING, Va.) -- The White House commended Muslim Americans Sunday for their role in fighting violent extremism, just days before the House plans hearings to investigate the “radicalization” of the U.S. Muslim community.

“The most effective voices against al Qaeda’s warped worldview and interpretation of Islam are other Muslims,” Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough said at an interfaith forum held at a Northern Virginia Muslim community center Sunday night.

McDonough praised the members of the community for taking “an unequivocal stand against terrorism” and was adamant that the U.S. does not practice “guilt by association.”

“You’ve condemned terrorism around the world against people of other faiths…In so doing, you’ve sent a message that those who perpetrate such horrific attacks do not represent you or your faith, and that they will not succeed in pitting believers of different faiths against one another,” he said.

McDonough’s comments come as Rep. Peter King, R-NY, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, plans to hold a hearing Thursday on the "Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response."

Earlier Sunday, King reiterated warnings that "something from within" the Muslim community is a threat to America and needs to be explored.

"We're talking about al Qaeda.  We're talking about the affiliates of al Qaeda who have been radicalizing, and there's been self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it's there.  And that's where the threat is coming from at this time,” King told CNN.

Critics say the hearings risk demonizing the Muslim community by targeting one faith over another.  While McDonough did not mention King or his hearings directly, he made it clear that “to protect our nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Lands in Indonesia; Volcanic Ash May Cut Stay Short

Photo Courtesy - Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images(JAKARTA, Indonesia) -- President Obama was greeted with heavy rain as he landed in Indonesia on Tuesday, a country where he lived in as a boy.  Despite the nearby erupting volcano, Mt. Merapi, no cloud of volcanic ash was present when the president landed, just a thunderstorm.

But ash from the volcano is still a threat.  The White House says President Obama will likely cut his stay short, leaving earlier than planned on Wednesday, when he is scheduled to deliver a second major address to the Muslim world at the University of Indonesia.

Obama first addressed Muslims last year in Cairo, Egypt.  His speech was aimed at seeking a new beginning with U.S. relations since the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  Indonesia is considered an important partner against terrorism.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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