Elham Asaad Buaras
Republican presidential candidate Dr Ben Carson continued airing his opposition to a Muslim becoming US president, a view which embroiled him in a row with America’s largest Muslim civil rights group who branded his opinion unconstitutional.
In an interview with ABC on September 27, Carson, a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, said Muslim Americans would have to “subjugate” their faith before being elected.
Referring to criticism of his previous remark that he “would not advocate” a Muslim president, the retired 64 year-old neurosurgeon said: “I said anybody, doesn’t matter what their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our constitution, I have no problem with them.”
Asked by ABC host Martha Raddatz about his comments on Muslims and the presidency, Carson said: “What we should be talking about is Islam, and the tenets of Islam, and where do they come from?
“They come from Sharia. They come from the Qur’an. They come from, you know, the life works and examples of Muhammad. They come from the fatwas, which is the writings of scholars.
“You know, and if you go back and you look at – what I would like for somebody to show me is an improved Islamic text that opposes Sharia. Let me see – if you can show me that, I will begin to alter my thinking on this.
“But right now, when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our constitution, why in fact would you take that chance?”
Carson’s views had led to a war of words with the Council on American-Islamic Relations – (CAIR) after its Executive Director Nihad Awad, called on him to withdraw from the race for expressing an opinion in violation of Article VI of the constitution which rules: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The first amendment to the constitution also rules: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
Carson retaliated by starting a petition calling for CAIR to lose its charitable tax exempt status.
Carson argued that by demanding he drop out of the race CAIR had “brazenly violated IRS rules prohibiting tax-exempt nonprofits like CAIR to intervene in a political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to – a candidate.”
Communications Ddirector for CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, hit back arguing the organisation did not violate “any IRS regulation in that we did not ’participate in’ or ’intervene in’ any political campaign. We, as mandated by our mission as a civil rights organization, merely expressed the opinion of our community that a candidate whose views violate Article VI of the Constitution is unfit for public office.”
CAIR also accused Carson of using, “a federal government agency to silence his critics”.
Hooper also asked “if that tactic would be used to suppress First Amendment freedoms should he become president.”