The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is drawing criticism over the bigoted comments he has been making recently about Muslims. It is well deserved, and is not a matter of “P.C. culture,” as Mr. Carson has claimed. Nor does Mr. Carson represent some minor fringe element in the Republican Party.
This latest sordid mess to arise from the G.O.P. nomination contest touches on bedrock American values, constitutional principles and American history. It reflects a pernicious habit among the leaders of the Republican Party to play with fire by pandering to an angry, disaffected and heavily white base by demonizing selected minorities. Muslims are just the current target.
Mr. Carson declared Sunday on ”Meet the Press” that Muslims are unfit to run for president because a president’s faith should be “consistent with the Constitution.” Later, he told the newspaper The Hill that Islamic Shariah law isn’t consistent with the Constitution because “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
Leave aside for a moment the unintentionally funny spectacle of a member of the current Republican Party declaring that religion should be kept out of public life, and that Mr. Carson, as an African-American, is a member of a much belittled minority. The freedom of religion embedded in the First Amendment rules out the very idea of a religious test for public office, as John F. Kennedy so eloquently argued and then proved by becoming the first Catholic president.
As for Shariah law, Catholicism has canon law and Judaism has the Halakha and nobody is painting them as threats to the republic — at least not this year.
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Muslims mark Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice in commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to Allah.
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There’s no Muslim figure comparable to Pope Francis, and certainly none with the kind of platform he enjoys. We Sunni Muslims used to have a Caliph, but not since 1924. Of course, we do have leaders who aspire to similar authority, including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, whose official titles include that of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”
Sounds nice, right? Virtuous, humble, devotional: He leads by serving. And leads who? Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Christianity’s largest denomination. Saudi Arabia claims to be, and is often described as, the principal Sunni Muslim power, leading the world’s more than 1 billion Sunnis, though its government isn’t even chosen by its own citizens.
Amid calls from a national Muslim civil liberties group that Ben Carson should withdraw from the race after his comments on Islam in America, a top campaign official said Carson will likely reach out to members of the Muslim community.
The campaign official said Carson’s interview on “Meet the Press,” in which the Republican said he would not support a Muslim as president, should be “watched or read carefully.”
“He did not say that a Muslim should be prevented from running, or barred from running in any way,” Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts said.
Watts said the people would ultimately decide. “He [Carson] just doesn’t believe the American people are ready for that,” Watts said.
Responding to a question in the interview that aired Sunday, Carson said, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Asked if a candidate’s faith should matter to voters, Carson said, “I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.” Asked if he thought Islam is consistent with the Constitution, Carson, “No, I do not.”
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BRAVO, MR. PRESIDENT!
HOUSTON — Ahmed Mohamed’s homemade alarm clock got him suspended from his suburban Dallas high school and detained and handcuffed by police officers on Monday after school officials accused him of making a fake bomb. By Wednesday, it had brought him an invitation to the White House, support from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg, and a moment of head-spinning attention as questions arose whether he had been targeted because of his name and his religion.
As a result, a 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Tex., who is partial to tinkering, technology and NASA T-shirts and wants to go to M.I.T., found himself in a social media whirlwind that reflected the nation’s charged debates on Islam, immigration and ethnicity.
“Cool clock, Ahmed,” President Obama said on Twitter. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” Mr. Obama’s staff invited Ahmed to the White House for Astronomy Night on Oct. 19, an event bringing together scientists, engineers, astronauts, teachers and students to spend a night stargazing from the South Lawn.
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