Newt Gingrich Wants To Deport Muslims Who Believe In Sharia

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich CREDIT: AP PHOTO/EVAN VUCCI
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich CREDIT: AP PHOTO/EVAN VUCCI

Muslims who can’t pass a test to ensure that they are compatible with Western civilization should be deported, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested following a terror attack involving a man who plowed into a crowd and killed more than 77 people in Nice, France.

“Western civilization is in a war,” Gingrich said on Thursday night during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity. “We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”

In the same interview, Gingrich — who is being considered as a potential running mate for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump — said the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion is “bologna.”

“We need to be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are,” Gingrich added. “Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felony. It should be closed down immediately.”

The former speaker also called for Muslims to be monitored online and at mosques — a policy that Trump, who has also called for banning Muslim immigration to the United States, embraces.

Gingrich took to social media on Friday morning to say that the media had distorted his interview.

Sharia law is a theological concept that’s interpreted differently by different Muslims. Although U.S. lawmakers have fearmongered about the supposed threat posed by Sharia — and many states have proposed laws to ban it — American Muslims are not exempt from following state, local, and federal U.S. laws, regardless of the religion they identify with.

Furthermore, although Gingrich’s statement suggests that most Muslims are immigrants who can be deported, surveys show that at least 77 percent of Muslims living in the United States are citizens — 65 percent of whom were born abroad but decided to become naturalized. At least 5,896 self-reported Muslims are serving patriotically in the U.S. military.

Holding the entire Muslim community responsible for terror attacks is nothing new. Time and time again, right-wing politicians have been quick to respond to terror attacks with Islamophobia, sometimes making inflammatory statements about Muslims even before the suspects were confirmed to have radical Islamist connections. Minutes after Thursday night’s attack in Nice, France, Trump speculated that the attack could have been carried out by a Muslim as in “Orlando, like in San Bernardino, like in Paris, like in the World Trade Center, like many other places, if it’s radical Islamic terrorism.”

Since 2011, Gingrich has been one of the most vocal opponents of Islam, a surprising turn given his warm relationship with Muslims in the past. When he was House Speaker in the 1990s, he organized a place on Capitol Hill for Muslim congressional staffers to pray every Friday and had close ties with a Muslim conservative group.

Gingrich isn’t the only Republican to argue that Western countries and ISIS are in what Samuel Huntington once ascribed as a “clash of civilizations,” a problematic framing that equates ISIS with the entirety of Islam. Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson all regurgitated this narrative during the presidential debates last year.