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Mike Huckabee Keeps Up Criticism of Islam in America

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Just days after stirring Muslim ire for ripping Islam as "the antithesis of the gospel of Christ," Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee again sharply critiqued the religion, telling an evangelical magazine that Muslims are receiving special treatment "at the expense of others" -- apparently referring to Christians -- and that is "un-American."

In the interview with Christianity Today, Huckabee was asked about New York Rep. Peter King's controversial plan to hold hearings in March on the alleged radicalization of American Muslims, and Huckabee responded by talking about concerns that Muslims wanted to "impose" the Islamic religious law code known as Sharia on Americans.

Sharia law cannot be used to trump U.S. laws, but conservatives, including Newt Gingrich -- another GOP hopeful for 2012 -- have gained traction with their base by arguing that it can, and Huckabee seemed to be joining that camp.

"We live in a country where people are free to be Muslim. They're not free, however, to impose a Muslim law as if it were civil law," Huckabee, a Baptist and former pastor, said. "If I were to say, okay, everyone must tithe to their local church, people would be outraged."

Huckabee cited a story from 2007 when a campus of the University of Michigan installed foot baths to accommodate Muslim students -- who comprised 10 percent of the student body -- who wanted a safe facility to wash before their daily prayers. At least 18 other universities also have foot baths for Muslims and any others who want to use them.

"I don't remember anyone ever accommodating me and saying we're going to erect a cross so that we can make sure you're comfortable when you walk across campus," Huckabee said. "I find that the accommodation we're making to one religion at the expense of the others is very un-American." (Many universities do have Christian facilities and symbols, such as chapels and crosses, to accommodate believers or as a legacy of their original church affiliation.)

Appearing on a Fox News show over the weekend, Huckabee also took aim at Islam as he criticized two Protestant churches that allowed Muslims to worship in their facilities when mosques in the area were too small or under construction.

"If the purpose of a church is to push forward the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then you have a Muslim group that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated, I have a hard time understanding that," Huckabee, a Fox host, said while he was a guest on "Fox & Friends." "I mean if a church is nothing more than a facility and a meeting place free for any and all viewpoints, without regard to what it is, then should the church be rented out to show adult movies on the weekend?"

Huckabee added that Islam "is the antithesis of the gospel of Christ." A leading Islamic advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called Huckabee's remarks "inaccurate and offensive" and asked him to apologize. CAIR said it would also help arrange a meeting between the former Arkansas governor and Muslim leaders "to discuss growing Islamophobia in American society."

Huckabee has not responded to either request.

In his Christianity Today interview, Huckabee did weigh in on the "birther" controversy -- about those who allege President Obama was not born in the United States -- and suspicions among many conservative Christians that Obama is not a Christian or may even be a Muslim. He said Obama is clearly a Christian and dismissed as "inappropriate, wrong-headed, and not helpful to the overall discussion when people try to say he doesn't have a birth certificate or he's a Muslim."

He said people should be focusing on whether Obama's policies are good for the country, "not what did he hear when he sat in church."

"If people went back and heard every sermon I heard when I was a little kid and some of the more fundamentalist pastors were yelling from the pulpit at me, if they took every one of those sermons and lifted out of them certain phrases and things, it could be scandalous, but only out of the context of the bigger picture."

In a similar vein, Huckabee seemed to give his close rival in the Republican sweepstakes, Mitt Romney, a boost when he said evangelicals should not consider Romney's Mormon faith when they weigh their preferences.

"I don't think they should, unless that person advances something truly bizarre," Huckabee said. (Evangelicals remain deeply suspicious of Mormon beliefs despite the fact that the two groups share many conservative values.) Huckabee said he was more interested in whether candidates live up to the teachings of their own faith.

Elsewhere in the interview, Huckabee maintained his standard line about a 2012 presidential run, saying he has not made up his mind. He said he projects a late summer decision, which would likely be three or four months after candidates including Mitt Romney make their official announcements.

He also casts social conservatives like himself as integral to fiscal conservatism and conservatism in general, pushing back at some of the more libertarian-minded conservatives who want to focus on economic issues at the expense of opposition to things like gay marriage and abortion.

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Mike Huckabee probably knows very little about the day-to-day realities of the lives of Muslims and I am pretty sure he knows even less about Islamic beliefs. His statement about Muslims and Islam say to most knowledgeable people, that he has not listened very carefully to Muslim voices, spiritual ideas and judgments about Jesus. Had he made a valid attempt to study Islamic beliefs instead of fault finding, he would know that Muslim do not believe that anyone who follows Jesus is an infidel.
Islamophobes examine Muslims, with a good deal of self-confidence, from a far distance, who’ve never taken the opportunity to know any but rely on inarticulate data generated by bigots to come up with various conclusions that are used to justify politically sanctioned discrimination and unfair decisions.
This is becoming more inevitable. Societies need to rely on stereotypes and generalities to organize their malicious understandings and establish policies that infringe on the rights of others .

Generally, controversial statements like Huckabee’s are too cruel, too misconstrued and relentless. Sometimes his kind of ramblings, or shall I say “cash communication” makes it hard to see that these are real people with a sound set of ethics, he is talking about.

I was a Catholic who converted to Islam. I loved Jesus then and I love him now. My belief in one God never commanded me to remove Jesus from the place he holds in my heart. As a Christian and as a Muslim, the message of Jesus has contributed to the wholeness of my spirituality. Islam did it obligate me to condemn another if his or her belief differ from mine.

There are many things one faith community may not know about another, especially when one does not try to understand. In absence of knowledge, we might try to act upon insightful kindness. A man who wants to be president of the United States, president of a democracy, president of a republic which respects religious rights- should know this. God help America if he doesn’t.

Khalilah Sabra
Muslim American Society- Immigrant Justice Center
Raleigh, North Carolina

February 27 2011 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If anyone bothered to read the article, the university of Michigan installed the foot bathes because some of those washing their feet in the lavatories were damaging them and leaving puddles of water on the floor, a slipping hazard. They spent $25,000, a tidy sum but nothing compared to what universities spend on capital improvements.
I am a conservative, a Christian, and, yes, a Huckabee supporter - still have my lapel button from 2008 (and still have my Sore-Loserman button and T-shirt also!!!) and really think Mike should not have used that example. I actually taught some college classes with Iranian assistants when the Shah was deposed; we got along fine until then but when the Shah was out, they were verbally abusive. I asked them if they were going home after the semester or staying in graduate school, and they admitted they were planning to stay in US indefinately. Why, I asked, not go home and help their countrymen? They had no answer.

February 26 2011 at 11:25 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

When you say: "(Many universities do have Christian facilities and symbols, such as chapels and crosses, to accommodate believers or as a legacy of their original church affiliation.)" is there a reason that you don't state what the University of Michigan offers Christians compared to Muslims? Our newswriters seem to present their ideas as Christian = bad, others (any others) = good. The hypocrisy I see is that you judge Christians to be intolerant, yet you are intolerant of them. If there were a state university out there that set aside an area each Christmas (not even permanently) for Christians to worship and practice their faith, what would then be your headline? "Inappropriate Violation of Church and State!" And to comment on what the U of M student said, it is different to allow time changes than to build facilities.

February 26 2011 at 12:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Either Huckabee is very misinformed about Islam or he is trying to stir up Islamophobia to strengthen his position with his base. Anyone who has taken a 101 Islam course in college can identify these false claims:

1. Islam considers Jesus Christ as a prophet of god. Just like Muhammad, which they consider the last prophet. Every prophet of the Abrahamic faiths is recognized as a prophet in Islam. The only difference is that divinity is attributed to Jesus only in the Christian faith (and some will argue that divinity wasn't attributed to Jesus till the Council of Nicea in order to accomodate the other cultures that were joining due to the conversion of the Romans, much after his death)

2. Islam considers Jews & Christians as "People of the book". Not infidels. Everywhere in the Quran Jews & Christians are referred to as "Bani-Israel" (children of israel). They are also referred to as Ahle-kitaab (people of the book - since the Quran recognizes the Bible & Torah were sent from God)

3. The God of all Abhramic faiths is the same. Allah is arabic for God. With the exception ofcourse of the divinity of Jesus, which is unique to Christianity.

Please take a lesson on Islam before you start dumbing everyone else.

February 24 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to jasonhen333's comment

I attended the University of Michigan. Among accomodations made to students of all faiths:

Jewish students are allowed to take tests at other times, or have new due dates for papers, when they conflict with Jewish holy days.

Michigan gets out very early compared to other schools. So, if Easter is late, professors are told they must accomodate students who seek to reschedule a final exam, because it falls on Good Friday. You can't question a student as to when he is planning to attend a Good Friday service.

As to the issue of letting a Muslim congregation use a church for services, ask yourself this. What would Jesus do? I think Jesus would command his followers to do the Christian thing and help their fellow men, even if they aren't believers.

February 24 2011 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Lovely. He argues against religious freedom in one breath and for it in the next. Pushing uninformed concerns and greater understanding at the same time. I don't know what's worse: his hypocrisy or his stupidity. Actually, the worst is that he continues to push this idea that all Muslims are extremists (and I am a Christian). Let me put it as simply as possible: al Quaida is to Muslims as the IRA is to Christians. Both are radical groups using terrorist tactics to push their own beliefs, which the majority in their religions don't agree with. The only differences between the 2 are the proximity of targets and the available money. So we can either accept that there are always people who take an idea too far (e.g. Palin, other right-wing extremists), and who have to be controlled, or we can ban all belief systems. The latter won't work too well.

February 24 2011 at 12:19 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to p47nandmosquito's comment

If you had been around at the time, you would have considered Jesus a radical.

February 26 2011 at 11:11 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I'd vote for Huckabee.

February 24 2011 at 11:09 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

How convenient. Mike Huckabee rages about the influence of a religion other than his own, and in the comments, someone applauding Mike Huckabee for wanting to push his religion on others. I didn't realize the Christians had a monopoly on marriage. Let's face it people, marriage has been going on for far longer than Christians have been in existence, and the concept of what it entails varies widely depending on where you look. How's this? ONLY the church can marry people, and all marriages are ONLY civil unions in the eyes of the law. Problem solved, next non issue, please!

February 24 2011 at 11:00 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Yes, many of our universities have Christian symbols. This country was founded on Christian principles. It just scares me that Islamic thinking is anyone who is not with us is against us. They are starting to take over parts of the country and once they have a strong hold, we are all screwed.

February 24 2011 at 10:06 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

I would love for this man to win. He cares about middle class and poor and he is for traditional marriage. Sick of GOPs that only care for CEOs and people that want to redefine marriage.

February 23 2011 at 11:59 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

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