Tennessee politician’s remarks on Islam raise uproar

Comments by Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey suggesting that Islam might be a cult and that Muslims might not qualify for constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms drew criticism from Islamic groups Tuesday and an eruption of national media attention.

Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor, said at a mid-July campaign event in Chattanooga that he is “all about freedom of religion,” which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“But you cross the line when they start trying to bring Sharia law into the United States,” he said. “Now you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, a way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it? We do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something that we are going to have to face.”

There are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and 7 million in the United States, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Ibrahim Hooper, that organization’s national communications director, called Ramsey’s comments “part of an unfortunate trend in our society.”

“There’s a vocal minority promoting the idea that if you can delegitimize Islam, you can deny American Muslims their religious and constitutional rights,” Hooper said Tuesday.

The flap, which caught the eye of several national blogs and news organizations Tuesday, comes one week before the Republican gubernatorial primary on Aug. 5 during a Tennessee campaign season in which opinions on Islam have at times dominated the debate. (Source)

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