Muslims unfit to be US president, says Republican
21 Sep 2015 - 2:40
WASHINGTON: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson yesterday said Muslims were unfit to be president of the United States, arguing their faith was inconsistent with American principles.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” Carson told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The remarks by Carson, who is near the top of opinion polls for the crowded field of Republican candidates, followed a controversy that erupted when front-runner Donald Trump declined to challenge anti-Muslim comments made by a supporter on Friday.
Carson, a Christian who says he got a core idea for his tax proposals from the Bible, said he thought a US president’s faith should be “consistent with the Constitution.”
Asked if he thought Islam met this bar, the retired neurosurgeon said: “No, I do not.”
America’s largest Muslim civil rights group condemned Carson for his statement, which it said should disqualify him from the presidential contest because the US Constitution forbids religious tests for holding public office.
“It’s beyond the pale and he should withdraw,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
Carson had been rising in polls although he gave up some ground in a CNN/ORC poll released yesterday. Sixteen Republicans are seeking the party’s nomination for the US presidential election in November 2016.
Carson’s comments drew scorn from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, another presidential candidate though one who garnered under 1 percent support in the CNN/ORC poll.
“I think Dr Carson needs to apologise,” Graham said, saying the comments were particularly offensive to US soldiers who are Muslim.
But other Republicans tread more softly around the issue, highlighting its salience among some voters. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had 4 percent support in the CNN/ORC poll, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that a president’s religion shouldn’t matter but he understood the rise of anti-Islamic sentiment because “we were attacked by people who were all Muslim.” REUTERS