US businessman and Republican presidential candidate Herman
Cain has angered Muslim groups after telling a political rally that Americans
have the right to ban mosques.
Appearing on Fox News, Cain later said his views were not
discriminatory and accused Muslims of trying to inject Sharia law into the US.
"I think it is an infringement and abuse of our freedom
of religion,” Cain told the audience in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
A planned mosque in the city has faced protests and legal
challenges from local residents.
“I don't agree with what's happening here because this isn't
an innocent mosque,” Cain said.
“There are other things going on based upon talking to the
people closest to the problem. It's not a mosque for religious purposes. This
is what the people are objecting to.”
Cain has also used the campaign trail to condemn what he
claimed were efforts to inject Sharia law into the US legal system.
"This is another way to sneak Sharia law into our laws,
and I absolutely object to that," he said.
Republican presidential candidates have increasingly used
anti-Muslim sentiment to try and garner support in the southern US states. Cain
has admitted he would not hire a Muslim to his administration if he was elected
president in 2012.
Former 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has said
the adoption of Sharia law in the US would “be the downfall of America” and she
“will not put up with any hint of Sharia law being any sort of law of the
Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt
Gingrich also told campaigners he was calling for “a federal law that says Sharia
law cannot be recognised by any court in the United States."
The views expressed by Cain and other Republican candidates
have been condemned by Muslim and Arab representatives in the US.
“There is a disturbing trend toward anti-Muslim bigotry
expressed by [Republican] presidential candidates. Anyone who would seek the
nation's highest office should avoid commenting on topics they admit knowing
little about,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on
American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington DC, told Arabian Business.
"It's really sad to hear those words coming out from a
[Republican] candidate who not only suppose to believe in but uphold the US
Constitution," said Saleh Sbenaty, a professor and member of the Islamic
Center of Murfreesboro's planning committee.
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