Herman Cain assailed as 'bigoted' over Muslim remarks
March 28th, 2011
04:36 PM ET
3 years ago

Herman Cain assailed as 'bigoted' over Muslim remarks

Washington (CNN) - A leading Muslim advocacy group accused potential presidential candidate Herman Cain of spewing "bigoted speech" Monday following remarks he made at a conservative conference last weekend.

While attending the Conservative Principles Conference last weekend in Iowa, Cain told a reporter- if he became president – he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet or as a federal judge.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) expressed outrage on Monday, saying Cain's words show how "right wing" conservatives are currently engaging in Muslim bashing.

"Even post 9/11 you didn't have this level of mainstreaming of anti-Muslim hate as you have now," said Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director for CAIR.

Cain's comments came in response to a question from a reporter for liberal-leaning Think Progress about potentially appointing a Muslim in a Cain administration.

"No, I will not," Cain responded. "And here's why. There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they've got a social problem that they don't know what to do with hardly."

Sharia law is derived from the Quran, the holy book of Islam. It informs Muslims with rules on how to live their everyday lives – including how to fast and how to pray. Some Muslim countries use Sharia law as a basis for their laws, particularly concerning crimes against Allah, against society and crimes of revenge.

Cain continued by recounting a question he'd recently received.

"I was asked, 'What is the role of Islam in America?' I thought it was an odd question. I said, 'The role of Islam in America is for those that believe in Islam to practice it and leave us alone. Just like Christianity. We have a First Amendment. And I get upset when the Muslims in this country - some of them – try to force their Sharia law onto the rest of us.'"

Cain mentioned anti-Sharia law legislation that passed in Oklahoma, last year. Other states have also taken up such measures.

In criticizing Cain's comments, Hooper characterized them as going "even beyond the almost routine Muslim-bashing we see coming from the right wing of the political spectrum."

Hooper was asked to specifically address Cain's assertion, echoed by other conservatives, that some Muslims are trying to invoke Sharia law into the United States.

"It's a manufactured controversy," Hooper said. "There is nothing to it. It would be laughable if it weren't having such a negative impact on the lives of Muslim Americans."

"There are millions of American Muslims that are just as much 'Us,' as he [Cain] is."

Cain's communications director, Ellen Carmichael, stressed to CNN that Cain "believes that everyone in this country has the right to practice whatever religion they choose."

And she tried to re-characterize Cain's comments.

"Just as he would never appoint a Catholic who is loyal to the Pope before he or she is loyal to the Constitution, Mr. Cain would never appoint a Muslim who believes Sharia law trumps our U.S. Constitution," Carmichael said.

"Anyone who is in the business of making laws, or interpreting laws, should use the Constitution and nothing else."

And she addressed CAIR's criticism of Cain, an African-American.

"The claim that he is bigoted – when he himself has lived the majority of his childhood and young adult life under segregation – is pretty baseless."

–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: Herman Cain
soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Marla

    Yes, he is bigoted, and I'm sure that many African-Americans are ashamed of him.
    Ours is supposed to be a secular government, and we are supposed to have a separation of church and state.
    It would be illegal for any president to use religion as a condition for appointment to a government position.
    This would cause many, many law suits.
    As for myself, I would want the best possible person in those positions, whether that person is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist or anything else. A person's private religious practices should have nothing at all to do with their day-to-day job.

    March 28, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Muslims need to examine who is at fault for the anti-Muslim sentiment.

    March 28, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Wake Up

    CAIR would find issue with something being anti-Muslim if someone said they didnt like the color of a woman's burqa,, they make me sick with their lawsuits and accusations,, using Saudi money in an attempt to sue the West into submission.

    Herman Cain was right on,, i dont know what you liberals witness going on around the globe and especially Europe but your obviously not watching REAL NEWS. Thousands of Muslims just marched thru London on Friday demanding worldwide Sharia just as they have numerous other places but yal liberals would rather go thru life wearing blinders and pretending everything is fine....that was the same mistake Jewish politicians in Germany did in the early and mid 1930s when certain madmen were calling for a certain change.

    March 28, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. ellid

    Not only is this amazingly bigoted and ill-informed, it's blatantly illegal. The Constitution itself explicitly prohibits religious tests for office.

    What an unpatriotic idiot.

    March 28, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Scoring cheap political accolades from the low information voters, eh?

    March 28, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. ...

    Is this guy for real?

    March 28, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. Graham

    If anyone should know what it's like to be discriminated against, it's a black man in America. To read Cain's comments makes me sick. Just his attitude tells me he's a sellout. If he runs, it'll be my pleasure to vote against him.

    March 28, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Inglourious

    The Cain campaign says: "Anyone who is in the business of making laws, or interpreting laws, should use the Constitution and nothing else."

    Where does that leave Cain (and his fans) other than completely ignorant of the Constitution? Article 6 states: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

    That means that Muslims cannot be disqualified from any public office simply because they are Muslims.

    March 28, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Robert Treat Paine

    Let's see, on one side we have an unindicted co-conspirator to 9/11 – CAIR. On the other side, we have a man who has been honorable all his life, religious (Or is that a bad thing these days? I supposed it depends on who you talk to.), of high character and held in esteem by his piers. Not a difficult choice from where I stand.

    March 28, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Robert Treat Paine

    Let's see, on one side we have an unindicted co-conspirator to 9/11 – CAIR. On the other side, we have a man who has been honorable all his life, religious (Or is that a bad thing these days? I supposed it depends on who you talk to.), of high character and held in esteem by his peers. Not a difficult choice from where I stand. (Sorry, I had to correct the spelling of peers.)

    March 28, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Phil

    What have this country turn into? When did it become the political popular thing to discriminate against our fellow Americans based on their religion? Yes it was radical Islamist who attacked us on 9/11. Yes it’s radical Islamist who place IED along the roads in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Yes it’s the radical Islamist who preaches, and teaches hate toward non Muslims. The one thing these statements have in common is the word (RADICAL) It seems like it’s the right leaning politicians who are using this scare tactic to keep Americans afraid, and racially biased against their fellow Americans who are Muslim. Mr. Cain’s communications director, tried to clean up his bigoted remarks by saying “The claim that he is bigoted – when he himself has lived the majority of his childhood and young adult life under segregation – is pretty baseless." In this case Mr. Cain should be the last person to show the ugly side of racial politics, but in the eyes of the right leaning politicians fear, lies, and half told truth equal votes.

    March 28, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. Ken Margo

    It's amazing how bigots say the same ignorant thing over and over. Sharia law WILL NOT happen in the U.S. Here is the simple reason. The Constitution, Bill of rights. Muslims can't force sharia law on us no more than they can get rid of Israel.
    One other point, american men abuse women also. Why do you think we domestic violence laws? I wish bigoted people come right out and admit their bigotry. Atleast they would have some credibility.

    March 28, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. walleye46

    I watched a show about Muslims on CNN last night. Amazing at how IGNORANT some people are in this country believing that Sharia Law will eventually take over her. This is what other immigrants went through when they came here because their ways were different. Italians, Jews, Greeks, Irish all were treated harshly – not to mention the Germans and Japanese during WW2. These people have all assimilated and become productive citizens. Bias towards the Muslims and Latins in our country will also end eventually and hopefully (but I doubt it) these homophobes will see how IGNORANT they were.

    March 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Marcello

    If the GOP nominates a conservative candidate who isn't a looney-tunes bigot, I will vote for that person in 2012. Good luck.

    March 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. AEJ

    "The claim that he is bigoted – when he himself has lived the majority of his childhood and young adult life under segregation – is pretty baseless." My question is, what is he doing in the Republican Party. Doesn't he sees how the the Republican Party treats the current black President? Wake up fella!!!!

    March 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. kyle

    Don't worry, this Clown will never become President.

    March 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. TB

    While I detest the ideaology of the neoconservative far-right, I agree with Herman Cain on this one. No religion should be allowed to impose it's laws on the rest of society.

    March 28, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "The claim that he is bigoted – when he himself has lived the majority of his childhood and young adult life under segregation – is pretty baseless."

    Learn some history. It's very frequently the most recent to suffer discrimination and overcome it who turn their sites on the new pariah du jour. It happened throughout our history as new nationalities arrived on our shores through Ellis Island...over and over and over. Cain's comments make him a bigot, not us calling him one.

    March 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Bob, Virginia

    The longer this nutbag gets airtime as a legit GOP presidential hopeful, the better it is for Obama.

    Same for Palin, Santorum, Huckabee, and the idiots like Pawlenty and Romney who are now pandering to the far-right fringe of the GOP.

    March 28, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. keeth in cali

    WHERE in America are Muslims trying to impose Sharia law? WHERE? Give one clear-cut example of Muslims imposing Sharia law on their neighbors and the rest of America. Back up your claims with fact, not opinions. WHERE? FAIL.

    March 28, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    Is he a BIGOT or is he trying to PLEASE the far-right!!! Oh, wait a minute – it's most likely all the same!!!

    If a Muslim feels intimated by the statement, then they believe it was a bigoted remark!!! How many times do Muslims step out and complain about a statement – even though RECENTLY, they've been "dragged down" by Americans and the media!!! Think about it!!

    March 28, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. dlh in Texas

    Do not let the color of one's skin intrepid your opinion of individual character, Cain is like a lot of people of color, that tend to think they are at a higher level because of their success, and the tendency is to mock their own kind by making cruel and sinister statements when in the presence of Whites that they admire. MLK, JC and MX all taught that we are all the same no matter what. Black men like Cain, Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes and many others are not respected in their own communities nor admired by their families..

    March 28, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Rob Johnson

    Are there Muslim fanatics who would like to impose Sharia law on the whole world? Sure there are. Do they have any chance of success? Of course not.

    Ever since 9/11, some paranoid elements in this country have tried to convince themselves that Muslims are going to invade the USA and make our women wear burqas. This is utterly ridiculous. We are more likely to be invaded by the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

    March 28, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. MM

    This is rich coming from a man of color. When i see a black man that pews the bigoted GOP rhetoric, i can't help but ask myself if the guy is color blind. Somehow i think "credibility" will be an issue with Mr Cain's Presidential campaign.

    March 28, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. Mattski

    I guess only Protestants put the Constitution before their God. I'm glad Herman is here to clear that up for us.

    March 28, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
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