The leader of Augusta’s mosque said Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s statement that a Muslim should not be elected president is “un-American” and goes against the Constitution.
“The Constitution says never to test their religion for public office,” said Imam Mohammad Jamal Daoudi of the Islamic Society of Augusta. “We have been requesting the Republican parties and candidates to stay away from using Islamophobic (language) and rhetoric.”
He joins a growing list of Muslims and other leaders nationally taking Carson to task for his statements Sunday in an interview on NBC’s
Meet the Press. On Monday, Carson appeared on Fox News to clarify his earlier statement and issued another statement Monday night on Facebook, saying he could not support a Muslim president who did not renounce the central tenet of Islam – Sharia law - and said his focus on radical Islamic beliefs was implied in the comment.
Daoudi said Muslims in the U.S. are erroneously seen by many Americans as holding the same views as Muslims in the Middle East.
“Muslims in the U.S. have nothing to do with what’s going on in the Middle East,” the imam said. “You cannot paint all Muslims the same way.”
He likened it to Christians who differ over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, saying many Christians considered that un-Christian legislation.
“Somebody’s faith has nothing to do with public office,” he said. “Muslims in this country, they teach in our public schools. They fight in our military. They serve in our Congress. They are a wonderful part of the fabric of our country. That’s what America is. (Carson’s) statement is confirming more why we need the Constitution to protect the Americans of all faith.”
Daoudi said Carson did not help the GOP among Muslim voters. He said Muslims who might have been considering voting Republican because they disagree with President Obama’s foreign policy on Syria – believing the U.S. should have intervened much sooner – might now be more likely to vote Democratic.
“It’s really hurting Muslims’ feeling and the Muslim citizens who are working hard and contributing to the fabric of the United States,” he said.
The Islamic Society of North America issued a statement Monday calling for Republican presidential candidates to reject Islamophobic rhetoric and inviting them to “positively engage with the American Muslim community and its voters.” Also Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.
“Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office,’” said the council’s executive director, Nihad Awad, in a news release. “We call on our nation’s political leaders – across the political spectrum – to repudiate these unconstitutional and un-American statements and for Mr. Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.”