Herman Cain assailed as 'bigoted' over Muslim remarks
March 28th, 2011
04:36 PM ET
12 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. Voice of Reason

    "...There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government..."

    Oh, and that's different from the GOP's creeping attempts to gradually ease fundamental, evangelical Christian faith into our government?

    Dont get me wrong, I am Christian, too – but the difference is that I am not suffering from your xenophobic fear of muslims.

    March 28, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  2. Judas

    And once again we have another wingnut painting an entire religion and its followers with the broad brush stroke of fanaticism.

    What Iā€™d really like to see is verifiable proof that these all of these aspiring POTUS wingnuts ever achieved the lofty goal of high school graduate. With the never-ending stream of stupidity that seems to emanate freely from the ever intolerant far right, I have serious doubts if any of them ever made it that far.

    Cain and his ilk all subscribe to the same wingnut playbook; when you lack the qualities of true leader and have nothing positive to contribute in the way of ideas or resolutions, the fastest way to get to the the top is to always fan the flames of fear, ignorance and intolerance.

    March 28, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  3. Vynn

    Clearly Mr. Clark's has yet to read the constitution. He has no idea that because of his statement, were he to be elected president, that every appointment he made could be contested by any Muslim candidate, and WON!

    Article VI – Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; BUT NO RELIGIOUS TEST SHALL EVER BE REQUIRED AS A QUALIFICATION TO ANY OFFICE OR PUBLIC TRUST UNDER THE UNITED STATES.

    March 28, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  4. Voice of Reason

    The GOP would use Muslims as the new 'folk devil' – a scapegoat to blame all their problems on. The Germans did it to the Jews in the 1930s. McCarthy did it to the communists in the 1950s. As long as there is a group we can point the finger at, and say, "They are the ones responsible for all your problems, and it's OK to hate them.", there will always be fearmongering spineless sheep like Herman Cain to play along...

    March 28, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. Scott A

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

    Baseless? Does Cain's communication department know what the definition of bigot is? It doesn't mean only one race is allowed to be a bigot. The definition says "anyone who is intolerant of any different race, creed, or religion". I doubt living your life as a priviledged socially right-wing Republican gives Cain any insight on segregation except for turning his back to it. And Republicans don't care about the U.S. Constitution – they only care about interpreting it to where it fits their hate-filled agenda in ruining the country.

    March 28, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. CM

    Last I checked, there was no Sharia law in Europe. Heck, France outlawed the burkah. And speaking of imposing religious law on a society, how about the Family Research Council and their attempt to impose Biblical here in America? They're a lot more likely to succeed than Muslim extremists.

    March 28, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. Voice of Reason

    I wonder if he would appoint a Christian to his cabinet? Because if you tally the number of Americans killed in battle over the last 250 years, the VAST MAJORITY were killed by Christians.

    Again, dont get down on me, i'm just saying that this guy (Herman Cain) is a fearmongering shill who is using people's ignorance to intimidate his weak-minded followers in the GOP.

    March 28, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  8. getreal

    until the left in this country quits putting feelings over reality, we'll continue to have jokes like Obama in the white house...and SOMEHOW they STILL blame things the liberal presidents do on conservatives...I don't get it.

    March 28, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  9. JustSaying2U..

    Cain, is the just the latest in this parade of fools from the GOP, who serve merely as a reminder that Pres. Obama is already deserving of a second term.

    March 28, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  10. janelle

    Has this reporter bothered to ask President Obama if he plans on appointing a Muslim on his cabinet? Mr.Cain clearly stated that followers of Islam, just like followers of any other faith, have the right to follow their faith, but not to insert that faith into law. He is absolutely correct, many European countries have adopted concessions to people of the Islamic faith in order to be politically correct, and have found it does not work. You cannot have one set of standards and laws for one group of people and another for a different group of people in a democratic society. Europe is now having to rescind many of these concessions because it just doesn't work.

    March 28, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. ingrid

    I think his communications spokes person made a valiant effort to put a good spin on a bigoted comment. Cain was being a bigot. He was asked point blank if he would appoint a muslin person to his administration and like the bigot he is, he said, "no I would not ." His reason is that he does not want muslims to impose their sharia ways on our culture. Give me a break. That is plain ignorance that he is trying to paint as not kowtowing to political correctness. Basically he is saying that all muslims are so religious and fanatical that they can not be trusted to serve the government. Really??? What about the muslims who serve in our military already? What about the muslims in our country who are doctors, teachers and in government now? Are they perverting our system? I did not like Cain to begin with but his bigotry and ignorance is sickening.

    March 28, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. Voice of Reason

    Didnt know a lot about his background, so i went and started reading about Cain... How surprising to find out that his current employment is: (Yep you guessed it)

    Fox News commentator!

    It's like they have a clause in their contract that they have to run for president as a GOP candidate and then make so many idiot statements per week. Let's see who else from the Faux News newsroom is going out on the trail to make a fool of themselves... Palin, Huckster, Bolton, Cain, Who else? I know i missed a few...

    March 28, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. Jimbo

    Who needs to fear Islamic radicals when we have bigoted Republicans right here at home ruining our country?

    March 28, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. Bushwhacked

    The greatest threat to the U.S.A. is the conservative right-wing and their corporate enablers who are working to dismantle government rather than show leadership in it. They are changing our democracy into a corporate controlled society. Look at the governors in OH, MI and WI and ask yourself if this is truly what you think these guys should be doing: deciding themselves if small local governments are in financial strife then disbanding those government sand installing hand-picked private companies to run them and eliminating decades of hard-fought collective bargaining for workers.

    March 28, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. DeJuan

    Thats right! We should make all them Muslims sit at the back of the bus too!

    March 28, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. HAZZ

    Yes this is part of our constitution, freedom of speech and he can say what ever he wants

    I thought we hire people based on their qualification and not their race or religion. Shame on Mr Cain, am sure you were around during the civil rights movement and maybe you marched in it. Clearly when you reach the top you forgot about all the little people

    I am not sure where they come up with this Shara law thing. I would love to see who is pushing for Sharia Law in the US? a prof of that would be nice

    March 28, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. Jimm

    So what he is saying is that he looks at religion first when selecting a judicial nominee...I guess that whole separation of church and state thing is out the window.

    March 28, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I wonder how he would react to the fact that there are actively practicing Christians and Jews among other religions (I'm sure) that are currently on the bench... Jewish law covers many aspects to how Jews should live their lives and that is okay? You have to wonder sometimes.

    March 28, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
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