Former neurosurgeon and current Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson stood firm on his position that a Muslim should not be president of the United States in an interview with The Hill on Sunday, despite backlash.
The former neurosurgeon only doubled down in his interview with The Hill, taking on Shariah, or Islamic law: “I do not believe Shariah is consistent with the Constitution of this country. 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,” he added.
The 2016 presidential hopeful, however, left a little wiggle room, saying that if the Muslim who was interested in running for office “publicly rejected all the tenets of Shariah and lived a life consistent with that,” then he “wouldn’t have any problem.”
Nonetheless, Carson still brought up taqiya, which, as The Hill notes, is a practice of Shiite, or Shia, Islam in which an individual may deny his or her faith to avoid religious persecution. “Taqiya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages, you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson told The Hill.
“We are a different kind of nation,” he added. “Part of why we rose so quickly is because we wouldn’t allow our values or principles to be supplanted because we were going to be politically correct. … Part of the problem today is that we’re so busy trying to be politically correct that we lose all perspective.”
Carson’s campaign has since attempted to push back against the backlash, saying that the candidate’s statements were misconstrued. “He did not say that a Muslim should be prevented from running, or barred from running in any way,” Carson’s campaign spokesman, Doug Watts, said, according to NBC News. “[Carson] just doesn’t believe the American people are ready for that.
“Dr. Carson is a strict adherent to the First Amendment—freedom of religion. That includes people of all faith,” Watts added. “He has great respect for the Muslim community, but there is a huge gulf between the faith and practice of the Muslim faith and our Constitution and American values.”