The Georgia chapter of a Muslim advocacy group blasted former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s call for the monitoring of American mosques and deportation of every citizen of Muslim descent who believes in Shariah law as “lunacy.”
Council on American-Islamic Relations executive director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said Muslims who feed the poor, pray and obey American laws follow Sharia, and compared the code of conduct to Jewish halacha and Catholic canon law.
“Yet Newt Gingrich wants to deport millions of American citizens, including the children of boxer Muhammad Ali and the tens of thousands of American Muslims who serve in academia, medicine and the military,” he said. “Common sense forbids this lunacy. So does the U.S. Constitution.”
The ex-Georgia lawmaker, who was seen as a finalist to be Donald Trump’s running mate but ultimately lost out to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, made the controversial remarks on Fox News in the aftermath of the terror attacks in France that killed at least 84 people.
“Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported,” Gingrich said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”
Gingrich said U.S. Muslims should be questioned about their loyalties and that their internet activity should also be monitored. Then he went a step further, saying the mosques themselves should be monitored.
It goes far beyond what Trump has advocated. The presumptive Republican nominee has advocated a temporary halt on Muslim immigration, a call he repeated on Thursday evening, but not a test to deport Muslims who are already legally in the U.S.
Gingrich has since tried to downplay his comments.
During a question and answer session on Facebook Live Friday afternoon, Gingrich said his comments to Fox News were “distorted” by the media.
“Let’s have the courage to start a conversation” about radical Islamic terror, said Gingrich, who added that “this is not about targeting people” of a particular religion.
Gingrich said leaders need to come up with game plans for combating terrorism in regards to three groups of people: foreigners who want to immigrate to the U.S., immigrants who are already in America legally and American citizens. He advocated for a style of surveillance used in New York City after 9/11.
“We must recognize that we’re at war. A very real war with people who will destroy our civilization,” he said.