Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Sunday that communities should be able to prevent the construction of mosques in their neighborhoods.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO said protests and legal challenges to a planned mosque in a Tennessee city are an example of local residents pushing back.
Cain said his view doesn’t amount to religious discrimination because he says Muslims are trying to inject Shariah law into the U.S.
Shariah is a set of core principles that most Muslims recognize and a series of rulings from religious scholars. It covers many areas of life and different sects have different versions and interpretations of the code.
Cain said he sided with some residents of a Tennessee town who tried to prevent Muslims from worshiping nearby.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, outside Nashville, has been the subject of protests and counter protests earlier. A judge ruled in May that its planned construction did not harm the residents who sued to prevent it, but also allowed claims that the county violated an open meetings law in approving it to move forward. Construction of the new center has yet to start as the case continues.
“Our Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. Islam combines church and state,” Cain said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They are using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their mosque in that community and the people in the community do not like it, they disagree with it.”
Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s planning committee and an MTSU professor, was saddened by the remarks.
“It’s really sad to hear those words coming out from a GOP candidate who not only suppose to believe in but uphold the US Constitution,” Sbenaty said.
He said Cain shouldn’t be making blanket statements without even reaching out to the Muslim community in Murfreesboro.
“Of course, it is hurtful especially because we feel he did not listen to both sides,” Sbenaty said, “It’s very hard for us to image that someone would listen to a few radicals who are accusing and making false claims.”