Herman Cain assailed as 'bigoted' over Muslim remarks
March 28th, 2011
04:36 PM ET
7 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. Bedwetters, sissies and paranoids

    So since Cain has stated he won't defend the Constitution e.g. no religious tests for appointments, he is not qualified to be POTUS. End of story.

    March 28, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. Shirley U Jest

    Calm down. what if Herman Cain said Scientologist instead of Muslim? Would the The Council on American-Islamic Relations called him a bigot then? Seriously doubt it.

    March 28, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |

    To pander to todays Rightwingers,GOP politicians have to act like a racist or a birther or both. Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt would be hated and vilified by todays Rightwinger. Both are turning over in their graves because of the Rightwing losers who act so unAmerican and are terrible examples of what a true Christian should be!

    March 28, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  4. Red79

    last time I checked your religion does not matter in the United States. I love seeing all these Christians distance themselves and say dont link us to Westboro but they have no problems linking all Muslims to Hamas, and Al Quaeda

    March 28, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. JR

    Cain has as much chance of being president as I have, zero. I have to admit though that it's amusing to watch the right wing loonies fall all over themselves to see who can be more anti-American in their efforts to be president.

    March 28, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. liberalevang

    So our wise Republican leaders are not satisfied with a few thousand extremists, they want to make 1.6 Billion people enemies? Osama Bin laden could not have a better partner than this useful idiots who are making his job of recruiting easier! Isn't this just superb?

    March 28, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. Geoff

    Living under racism, segregation, antisemitism and whatever other horrible things humans beings do to one another in no way makes one immune from the same base instincts and beliefs. One only need look to Israel to see that. This guy is a shill for the GOP. they will use him up and throw him away..

    March 28, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. AndyG

    Just for the record, CNN, Mitt Romney made similar comments on multiple occasions last year.

    March 28, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Mr. Marcus

    I resent Cain's [presumably white] communications director commenting on whether or not he can be a bigot. I'm a black man and I'll state clearly that YES, he can be a bigot – IN FACT, he himself might harbor race-based prejudices against African Americans.

    Discussing race-based behavior is not "RACIST" and we should not shy away from it. When people use the "N" word, I have no problem with the full 6 letter word being printed or spoken in context. So let's get after this.

    There is no place in America for someone who wants to be president to preclude any American from serving in an Administration or the judiciary. If a Mulsim was named and then violated American principles, the President should fire them or if a Federal judge, the Constitution makes provisions to impeach them. That's the way we address the concern Cain raised – not by discriminating against Muslims.

    Asians, Latinos, Women, Africans, Jews, Catholics, Muslims should view this as an indication of which party they can expect to treat them fairly – it's not the Republicans.

    March 28, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. liberalevang

    How else is he going to garner some fame in the company of birthers, Bachmans, Palins, Trumps and Gingrichs' of the Republican party. It is a competition as who will out crazy the crazies!

    March 28, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. CTYank

    What this man is saying is, simply, insane. Responding to boogey-men that only he and the fringe see.
    A continuation of "W", in creating enemies rather than friends. Pathetic waste of time.

    March 28, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. sd

    Cain is an idiot and clearly hasn't read the constitution. The supreme law of the United States forbids the federal government from passing laws fostering/favoring one religion over another. The religious right has been trying to do just that for years and been rightly stopped by the courts. As such, there is no way Sharia law will be enaceted by our government pure and simple. It's shocking that a potential candidate for the nation's highest office could be so ignorant of the country's bedrock legal document. Oh wait, he's a republican. Never mind.

    March 28, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. B

    Anyway that you cut it, This guy is an extremist dealing with race , religion, or politics.

    March 28, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. ted

    yeah, if he were president, fat chance

    March 28, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. TEE

    Not every black man/or woman believes he has been treated badly, and they believe that if they act like the persons in power and get along, there is no racist, treat others like they don't want to be treated,my friends don't call that being an uncle tom anymore, but they have the mistaken belief that by getting along, try to fit in with the good old boys, they will move ahead. I call them undercover brothers & sisters, they treat people of their own race worst than those that continue to enslave our mind. Everyone knows who you are, and generally you will NEVER be accepted in their world. You will only be tolarated until you are no longer useful....Herman Cain was not accepted in Georgia, he was not true to himself. HE WILL NEVER BE POTUS....He is not being true to himself....Now he is being accepted by a few blind sheep, and no one in the community in which he was raised........We will pray for him, it's never to late..

    March 28, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. Ahmed

    I am a Muslim and yes the Quran supercedes any man made law including the Constitution of the United States. I would expect that the Christians or the Jews also believe that the commands given to them by God in their scriptures supercedes any other law. Allah commands us to stay away from liquor since there is a greater evil in it than the good. One of my positions, if I were ever to run for a government position would be to restrict the sale, use of alcohol. The Christian faith teaches that unborn children should not be aborted. Muslims have the same injunction. If I were ever to run for public office, as part of my effort I would go against abortion except for some circumstances such as when the woman's life is in danger or in cases of rape, etc. I hope what I am saying is understood.

    March 28, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. twiddly

    "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."

    Nope, not baseless at all. 99% of child abusers were themselves abused. He learned his racism the hard way, and sadly he's now passing it on.

    March 28, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. whoosh

    Don't worry, with comments like that-you will not become president of anything!!! You Moron.

    March 28, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  19. Mike In Colo

    It's sad that so often a politician addressing the far right in this country feels the need to take a position that is this devisive. It's because the far right is so far out there. They are beginning to sound like the members of the Aryan Nation used to. I'm a Republican who voted for Obama because the GOP has veered of course so far. Reagan would be appalled at his party now! Call me a RINO, but I won't vote Republican again until the party comes up with some positive ideas for moving forward. Too many on the far right would trample the Constitution in order to protect it. Maybe we should give back the Stature of Liberty....

    March 28, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  20. Ahmed

    I do believe Cain's comments are bigoted and it's unfortunate since he also comes from a group of people who have been suppressed and oppressed and continue to suffer even today. It seems he feels that perhaps by taking this stand he will have a greater voice amongst his predominantly white colleagues. In addition, those who have been oppressed have oppressed others as can be seen by the Jewish people's treatment of Muslims in Palestine as well as in the U.S. If you look, you'll find that they are the main perpetrator's of anti-Muslim sentiments. They also continue to imprison and kill the innocent Palestinian people from whom they have robbed their lands as well.

    March 28, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. Repentigny

    Finally a politician who will come out and say what most others really think.

    March 28, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  22. Chris B

    "I get upset when the Muslims in this country – some of them – try to force their Sharia law onto the rest of us"... Replace the word Muslim with Christians and you'll get a glimpse of how every non-Christian feels in America. (Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Atheist etc. etc. – heck, even Homosexuals etc. "In Gos We Trust" was only added a few decades ago... the Founding Fathers omitted it in so much for a reason. Hint – many weren't Christian!!

    March 28, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. Shannon

    It's sad what is happening to America, the bigots and hate mongers are taking over. I fear people like Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich and all their GOP friends far more than any Muslim living here in America, or around the world for that matter. I watched CNN last night ,and I was appalled at the ignorant people who live in this country. They don't even understand the freedoms America was founded on, they just want us to live under their rule, their religion, and their viewpoint of how the they think this country should be. They are the fanatics, not the Muslims, Bachmann is right, we need to take our country back, back from people like this man, and people like her.

    March 28, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. Obamacare = Romneycare v1.01

    I really don't like where these social conservatives are leading the Republican Party, because then I have to vote for Democrats or Independents.

    March 28, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  25. auguron

    How very funny. He speaks against one religion's attempts to take over America, but judging by his affiliation, and appearance at this conference, he appears to condone another religion taking over America. Wake up Cain! They are all evil.

    March 28, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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