Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Refuses to Denounce State Rep’s Anti-Muslim Remarks

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R)

Tennessee State Rep. Rick Womick (R-Murfreesboro) is facing growing criticism for his comments, first reported by ThinkProgress, calling for a purge of all Muslims from the U.S. military.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) told The Nashville Scene, “I don’t think I would agree with Rick on that.” But when pressed to denounce Womick’s comments, as Muslim community groups have been urging, Haslam came up short, saying “I don’t know that’s my role. I would just say that on that issue I don’t agree with Rick.”

Haslam might be slow to denounce Womick’s comments that Muslims should be forced out of the military, but Womick is finding few defenders in his party.

The Murfreesboro Daily News Journal contacted Republican State Reps. Joe Carr, Pat Marsh, Bill Ketron, Jim Tracy and Mike Sparks for contact but none of them chose to comment on the controversy surrounding Womick.

While Republicans remain silent about Womick’s decision to denounce all Muslims in the U.S. military on Veterans Day, Muslim community groups are calling on Womick to issue an apology and for Tennessee politicians to publicly rebuke Womick’s anti-Muslim statements.

Islamic Center of Tennessee educator Abdul Rahman Chao told Nashville’s News Channel 5:

I think what he says has great implications, and I think he should not only retract what he said but also apologize to all people who are Muslims who are serving the military as well as all Muslims in the United States of America, because that bigotry only leads people to alienation and hate.

Watch it:

The Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR) issued a statement calling on the Tennessee General Assembly to formally rebuke Womick for “defaming all members of the military.”