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Herman Cain Apologizes to Muslim Americans


Republican primary candidate Herman Cain released a statement of apology on his recent remarks on Muslims and Islam. Most recently, the GOP hopeful said he supported the banning of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Cain apologized yesterday after meeting with Muslim leaders from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia.

"While I stand by my opposition to the interference of shariah law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends," Cain said. "I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it. Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully."

Cain has made several comments about Muslims and Islam during the campaign, but he recently attracted national attention for saying that communities should be allowed to prohibit mosques. Cain said on Fox News Sunday that Muslims do not have a constitutional right to worship. According to Cain, Islam is not just a religion–it is "both religion and of set of laws, Sharia law."

Cain also said he would be wary of allowing a Muslim in his cabinet because he or she might be a terrorist.

"If you at my career, I have never discriminated against anybody because of their religion, their sex, or origin, or anything like that," Cain said. "I'm simply saying I owe it to the American people to be cautious because terrorists are trying to kill us. And so, yes, I'm going to err on the side of caution, rather than on the side of carelessness."

Cain's recent comments are not his first on Muslims. In March, Cain told Christianity Today that he resented Muslims who try to convert people in America, a "Judeo-Christian nation."

And so I push back and reject them trying to convert the rest of us. And based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them. Now, I know that there are some peaceful Muslims who don't go around preaching or practicing that. Well, unfortunately, we can't sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don't believe in that aspect of the Muslim religion. So their role is to be allowed to practice their religion freely, just like we should be allowed to practice our religion freely, and not try to convert the rest of us.

Cain's comments brought scrutiny to Cain's views of Muslims. The New York Times wrote an editorial on Sunday that criticized Cain for using "religious bigotry."  The editorial also questioned why other Republican candidates were not denouncing Cain's comments.

Cain's comments won praise from Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. Fischer has said that Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment. Instead, Fischer said that non-Christian religions have the "privilege" to exist in the United States. Fischer says this tolerance should not apply to Islam.

"[Islam's] view of culture is so bizarrely un-American as to be dangerous and destructive to civilized society in all its forms," Fischer said. "If there ever was a toxic ideology whose spread should be stopped at the starting gate, Islam is it. No community should be forced against its will to allow shrines to this twisted, darkened counterfeit spirituality to take root in its midst."

Fischer responded quickly to Cain's apology. Fischer wrote on Twitter, "Cain may have torpedoed candidacy w/ apology to Muslims. Conservs looking for someone who sees dangers of Islam, unapologetic @ saying so."

Faith in Public Life's Nick Sementelli said the apology is good, as far as it goes. But he said there are still questions about Cain's policy positions.

"Would he still require Muslims to take special loyalty oaths to serve in his cabinet? Does he still believe religious freedom doesn't apply to Muslim places of worship?" said Sementelli. "It's good to see Cain recognizing that his comments have caused significant harm, but it's the policy positions he's endorsed that are most dangerous. Until he explains where he stands on these specific questions, he shouldn't be let off the hook."

Polls suggest that Cain sits at about 6 percent in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, behind Mitt Romney (21%), Michele Bachmann (13%), and other candidates, according to Real Clear Politics.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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