Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said he has no problem with a Muslim American president so long as he rejects Sharia religious law, a condition that has upset Muslims leaders in the United States.
Muslim journalist Ali Younes jabbed Gingrich with a loaded question last week in South Carolina before the state’s primaries, which Gingrich handily won. He told Gingrich that South Carolina has a governor from Indian origin and that a Jew and a woman formerly have run for president and vice president of the United States.
"Would you support a Muslim American running for president?” Younes asked. With a hint of what he may as the political future of the United States in coming years, Younes also asked, “Would you endorse...a Muslim-American, [who] could possibly be running for president?”
Gingrich did not flinch and replied, "A truly modern person who happened to worship Allah would not be a threat. A person who belonged to any kind of belief in Sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us, would be a mortal threat."
“I am totally opposed to Sharia law being accepted by any court n the United States and I favor a federal law that pre-empts it and says Sharia law will not be used in any court.”
The Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim lobby in the United States, labeled Gingrich’s comments as evidence of his being "one of the nation's worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry.”
CAIR Legislative Director Corey Sayolor stated, "Newt Gingrich's vision of America segregates our citizens by faith. His outdated political ideas look backward to a time when Catholics and Jews were vilified and their faiths called a threat.”
Younes also questioned Gingrich on his statements that the “Palestinians are an invented people” and asked, “What do you suggest should happen to them? Should they become Israeli citizens?”
Gingrich answered, “If the Hamas and the PLO recognize Israel’s right to exist and they meant it, and they hunt down and stop the terrorists and the bombing, I would favor peace with the Palestinians and I would favor an independent Palestinian state.”
He added, "In November, 11 missiles were fired on Israel. That is not a peace process. That is war.”
Younes wrote for Al Arabiya Monday and quoted American Arab columnist Ray Hanania who argued that Gingrich's conditions are ”like the U.S. Congress asking the government to end crime in the streets of America as a condition of balancing the budget.”
Gingrich totally rejected the Arab world’s so-called “right of return,” a demand that millions of descendants of former Israeli Arabs be allowed to immigrate to Israel. “There is no natural right of return,” said Gingrich. “East Germans have no right of return to Poland, Greeks have no right of return to return to Turkey, and Poles have no right to return to Russia.”
In Younes’ article Monday, he quoted Arab American political analyst Osama Abu Katta as saying, “According to his argument, Jewish immigrants from around the world have no right to go to Palestine and take over that country claiming the right of return to their biblical lands.”