Newt Gingrich’s statement that he would only support Muslim presidential candidates if they “would commit in public to give up Sharia” was met by harsh comments from both Muslim American organizations and academic experts on Islamic law. “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 His outdated political ideas look backward to a time when Catholics and Jews were vilified and their faiths called a threat,” said Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Legislative Director Corey Sayolor.
But Gingrich’s anti-Muslim crusade found an ally with noted Islamophobe Frank Gaffney. Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, leaped on Gingrich’s anti-Shariah comments yesterday in a column for National Review Online and on his radio show, Secure Freedom Radio. His column reads:
Newt is absolutely right in making such a distinction [between a “moderate person who worships Allah” or “a person who belonged to any kind of belief in sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us]. The danger we currently face from the so-called Muslim world arises not from the fact that people are Muslim, but from the extent to which they adhere to the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine of sharia.
Speaking on his radio show yesterday, Gaffney took a similar line:
With his successive warnings about sharia…Newt Gingrich has, in my judgement, rendered a real public service. We must know who are enemies are and we must defeat, not accommodate, those who in the name of Sharia are obliged to wage Jihad against us. And we must keep America Sharia free.
But Gaffney’s concerns about religious and personal freedoms rarely extend to Muslim Americans. Last year, he said:
A mosque that is used to promote a seditious program, which is what Sharia is…that is not a protected religious practice, that is in fact sedition.
Newt Gingrich makes no secret of his hostility toward Muslims but Frank Gaffney’s defacto endorsement — he also picked up an endorsement from anti-Muslim activist and Gaffney ally Pamela Geller — might not be helpful as Gingrich attempts to appeal to moderate voters and chip away at Mitt Romney’s momentum in the primaries. Gaffney is a noted member of the Islamophobic far-right and his organization, the Center for Security Policy, was highlighted as a major nexus for the anti-Sharia initiatives sweeping the country in the Center for American Progress’s report, Fear, Inc.