LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Speaking to the Republican Women’s Club in a mall on the glitzy Las Vegas Strip, retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson repeated a debunked theory that Muslim immigrants have taken control of neighborhoods in major European cities, and warned a similar pattern could arise in the U.S.
“Everyone is welcome in America if they’re willing to assimilate, but we don’t want the kind of situation that has occurred in Great Britain where you have 85 sharia courts and no-go areas and things like that,” Carson told the room of mainly older Republican women. “That doesn’t make sense for the United States of America, which is the great melting pot.”
When Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal — who has since dropped out of the 2016 race — made a similar claim earlier this year, he was widely derided by European officials, who called it “complete nonsense.” After Fox News made the same assertion, they were forced to admit their “serious factual error” in multiple on-air apologies.
As for Carson’s mention of “sharia courts,” some European cities do have what are known as Muslim Arbitration Tribunals, but they only hear and resolve family and civil cases, and don’t have any power to override or challenge the government’s legal system.
Yet Carson stuck by the claim on Wednesday, citing it as a reason for investigating the Muslim civil rights organization CAIR, which he claims has ties to terrorism.
“People will try to make that sound like it’s racist or Islamophobic or irrational. It’s not irrational,” he said. “I am a very compassionate person and I believe in rights for everyone. However we must understand that in America we have an identity and a culture. And I, for one, am not ready to give up on it and say it should be changed to something else.”
Carson, who has also said he doesn’t believe a Muslim American should be allowed to be president, did not mention that CAIR has already been investigated by the federal government, who failed to find any basis for prosecuting the group’s leaders.
The candidate’s remarks come just two days after he participated, by video, in a summit held by the anti-Muslim group Center for Security Policy, which has promoted the conspiracy theory that there are not only “no-go zones” in Europe but in U.S cities as well.