The 2012 presidential elections may seem a long way off, but candidates are already emerging and distinguishing themselves from the hazy pack. In the case of conservative Herman Cain, his adamancy this weekend at the Conservative Principles Conference that he would never appoint a Muslim to federal bench or the Cabinet have certainly gotten him noticed.
Raw Story spoke with Suhail A. Khan, a senior political appointee who served during both terms of George W. Bush’s presidency. Khan, a Muslim conservative, said that Cain’s comments were un-American.
“For Mr. Cain to preclude an entire group of Americans based on their faith, it hearkens back to another time, when other religious groups were discriminated against based on their faith, and that, I think, is very un-American,” Khan said.
Cain, however, believes there has been an “attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government, and it does not belong in our government.”
“The role of Islam in America is for those that believe in Islam to practice it and leave us alone. Just like Christianity,” Cain told ThinkProgress at CPC. “We have a First Amendment. And I get upset when the Muslims in this country, some of them, try to force their Sharia law onto the rest of us.”
Khan shot right back to remind Cain that the First Amendment applies to all faiths, telling Raw, “Muslim Americans, like their fellow Americans, love their country, love the U.S. Constitution, and want nothing more or less than to uphold the U.S. Constitution. But Muslim Americans, like their fellow Americans of various faiths, would like to practice their religion pursuant to the First Amendment, and that’s all there is.”
Khan pointed out that people of Muslim faith have served with distinction in law enforcement, as first responders, within Democratic and Republican administrations, and in every sector of public life.
Selection as a political appointee “should be based on ability and merit,” he said. “I don’t think that one’s race or gender or faith background should be used in selection as a positive or a negative. To exclude somebody based on their faith — we’ve seen this movie before, and we didn’t like it, whether it had to do with Catholics, Americans of the Jewish faith, Japanese-Americans, and so many others, sadly.”
Watch ThinkProgress’ video of Cain’s full anti-Muslim remarks, embedded below.
Image of Herman Cain via Wikimedia Commons.
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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