Republican candidate Carson slammed for anti-Muslim remarks
by Daily Sabah with Wires
ISTANBULSep 23, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Wires
Sep 23, 2015 12:00 am
The White House on Monday strongly rebuked Republican hopeful Ben Carson after he made controversial comments about Muslims that stoked a widespread backlash.
The Republican contender Ben Carson ignited a storm of controversy on the weekend, by stating that he saw Islam as incompatible with the charge of head of state and saying he would not support a Muslim holding the presidency. Carson told the Hill newspaper that "Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that's inconsistent with our principles and our constitution."
The White House slammed Carson's remarks, with the spokesman Josh Earnest saying, "This is not something that's consistent with the values of the vast majority of Americans, and ironically enough, I actually do think that the views articulated by Dr. Carson are entirely inconsistent with the constitution that does actually guarantee the freedom of religion in this country.
"What's particularly disappointing to many observers, including me, is that we haven't seen a significant outcry from all of the other candidates in the Republican race, and it's for the same reason, because they're chasing the same votes," Earnest added.
After leading Republicans echoed his viewpoint, or gave ambiguous answers, the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Monday answered, resoundingly, yes. "Can a Muslim be President of the United States of America? In a word: Yes. Now let's move on," Clinton said on Twitter. She attached to her tweet an extract of the fourth article of the U.S. Constitution, which read, "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
Republicans were split in their response. Senator Ted Cruz disagreed with Carson's stance, saying, "I am a constitutionalist." Senator Lindsey Graham said on Twitter that "America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion" and that Carson's statement showed he was not qualified to be president. Another Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina also said Carson's comment is wrong, citing the relevant article in the constitution, suggesting that religion cannot be a test for office. She told host Jimmy Fallon that she believes people of faith make better leaders and her faith has sustained her through some bad times. But Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was more ambiguous. When asked whether he would be comfortable with a Muslim as president, told NBC on Sunday, "I don't know if we have to address it right now, but I think it is certainly something that could happen." Trump sparked criticism last week, saying, "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims."
The head of the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group called on Carson to drop out of the 2016 presidential contest during a Capitol Hill press conference on Monday, declaring him "unfit to lead because his views are in contradiction with the United States Constitution." "Not long ago, some people thought that a Catholic cannot be a president, an African-American cannot be a president," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic relations. "They were wrong then, and they are wrong now."
Muslim Americans responded with a mix of frustration, exasperation and anger to what many see as a growing wave of Islamophobia fueled by two of the Republican Party's most popular presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Many of the country's 2.8 million Muslims say such tensions could become uglier during a presidential race that they fear is already tapping a vein of anger and bigotry.
"It's pretty troubling that someone running for president would make those claims," Zuhair Shaath, Palestinian-American, said of Carson. Some Muslims say they fear that the remarks could strengthen the appeal of Carson and Trump, who have cast themselves as non-politicians in a race in which blunt comments laced with misogyny and xenophobia have done little to derail the popularity of Trump, who is leading in opinion polls of likely Republican voters.