News / USA

    Republican US Presidential Candidates' Views of Islam Stir Controversy

    Businessman Herman Cain speaks during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate in Manchester, N.H., June 13, 2011.
    Businessman Herman Cain speaks during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate in Manchester, N.H., June 13, 2011.

    Some candidates for the U.S. presidential election next year have been making statements about Islam and its American adherents that are stirring controversy. Civil rights groups warn that the candidates are pushing anti-Muslim views into the mainstream.

    Candidate - Cain views

    No one has gone as far as Herman Cain.  The former chairman of a pizza chain was one of the lesser known Republican candidates - that is, until a few months ago - when he said that, if he was president, he would not like to have a Muslim working for him.  At a debate in New Hampshire several weeks ago, Cain said that would make him uncomfortable. "And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us," he said.

    Cain denied that he is anti-Muslim, but he argued that a Muslim applying to work in his administration would be subject to a different level of screening than someone of another faith.  Another republican candidate, Newt Gingrich, suggested during the New Hampshire Republican debate that Muslims seeking a job in an administration he leads would be subject to special loyalty tests.

    Candidate - Gingrich views

    “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 stated.

    Critics say such views are discriminatory.  One such critic is Haris Tarin of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "... what they're doing is they're trying to use an issue that most Americans don't know about to try to instigate curiosity so that people can potentially vote for them," he said.

    Not all the candidates single out Muslims in this way. Mitt Romney, the Republican front runner so far, recalled at the debate that America was founded on the principle of religious tolerance.  Romney belongs to the Mormon faith, which some evangelical Christians consider to be heretical.

    Views, from the fringes to mainstream

    Tarin is concerned that anti-Muslim views could become more acceptable to the broader public after being aired during a debate among presidential candidates on the Cable News Network, CNN.

    "We're very worried, because these views have been consistently found in the fringes.  Now they're being viewed on CNN and debated on a nationally televised debate of Republican nominees.  And so when it moves from the fringes to the homes of mainstream America we get very worried," Tarin noted.

    There is evidence that may already be happening.  A recent report on Islamophobia by the Council on American-Islamic Relations cited a 2010 poll which found that one-third of Americans believe adherents of Islam should not be allowed to run for president.

    The issue got further attention when Congress’ House Committee on Homeland Security conducted hearings in March and again this month on al-Qaida’s reported attempts to recruit followers among the Muslim-American community. The committee chairman, Republican Peter King of New York, said the hearings were necessary to protect America from terrorist attack.

    And according to the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the American Civil Liberties Union, at least 25 state legislatures are considering proposals aimed at banning the Muslim Sharia code of law from being cited in U.S. courts.

    9/11 terror attacks, plots - American views changing

    Anti-foreigner sentiment has come and gone in America because of its development over the centuries as a nation of immigrants.

    Steve Grand is a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution."There's a long tradition in the United States, unfortunately, of fearing the unknown and fearing those who seem different from us," he said. "And then eventually we come to know and understand those people and they become part of the American mainstream and American culture."

    But 10 years after al-Qaida’s 9-11 terror attacks in New York and several foiled terror plots since then, the prospects for Muslim Americans may be different than America’s previous waves of immigrants.

    Grand concedes that while earlier immigrants became part of the mainstream fairly quickly, Muslim Americans may find that process takes much longer.


    Jerome Socolovsky

    Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.