While appearing on Monday’s edition of Fox News’ “Hannity,” GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson clarified his statement that he would not support a Muslim for president. Carson told the conservative talker that “we do not put people at the leadership of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the Constitution,” which, he added, applies to everyone, not just Muslims. He singled out Muslims, however, explaining that they could be considered heretics if they put the Constitution above Islam.
“Now, if someone has a Muslim background, and they’re willing to reject those tenets and to accept the way of life that we have, and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion, then of course they will be considered infidels and heretics, but at least I would then be quite willing to support them,” he said. Nevertheless, he clearly told Hannity that he would oppose anyone who wants a theocracy, regardless of their religion.
“So if, for instance, you believe in a theocracy, I don’t care if you’re a Christian, if you’re a Christian and you’re running for president and you want to make this into a theocracy, I’m not going to support you,” he said. “I’m not going to advocate you being the president.”
“I spoke with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser today, he’s a moderate Muslim, and I asked if he could name a single Muslims country that treats women the way we treat women, or minorities the way we treat minorities in this country,” Hannity said. “He couldn’t name a single one. Was that what you were thinking in your mind when you were answering the question, in other words, the way Muslim theocracies currently operate?”
“That’s correct,” Carson said in response. “I mean, they currently do not tend to operate the same way that our system does.”
He also said that he could support a moderate Muslim who rejects the more violent aspects of the religion along with Sharia law. “For example, if there was a moderate Muslim that denounced Sharia, that denounced radical Islamists, that denounced quotes in the Koran about killing the infidels or not taking Christians and Jews for your friends, that denounced the controversial life of Mohammed, you would be open to that Muslim running for president?” Hannity asked.
“Of course,” Carson said in response. Hannity declared the controversy “over,” but for some, the issue is far from settled. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said his group wants Carson to “withdraw from the presidential race because he is unfit to lead, because his views are inconsistent with the United States Constitution.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement calling Carson’s comments “deeply offensive, un-American and contrary to the Constitution.” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the controversy in a tweet citing the Constitution.
“Can a Muslim be President of the United States of America?” she asked. “In a word: Yes. Now let’s move on,” she added. Others called Carson a racist, even though “Islam” is a religion, not a race.
The Associated Press said Carson’s statement “highlights a sentiment among voters in both parties who agree with Carson’s reluctance to elect a Muslim to the nation’s highest office.” The concern we have seen expressed by many on social media and in comments on various articles is the insistence that Sharia Law be placed above the Constitution.
Despite the outcry, Carson’s campaign has benefited greatly from the issue. The campaign has reported strong fundraising and over 100,000 new Facebook friends in the 24 hours following the statement on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the AP added. Video of the exchange between Hannity and Carson can be seen above.