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| AMP Report – September 1, 2011
Growing anti-Islam rhetoric in the Republican Party
Islam as ‘enemy’ is perhaps a staple of Republican political discourse. Amy Sullivan says if you are not vitally concerned about the possibility of radical Muslims infiltrating the U.S. government and establishing a Taliban-style theocracy, then you are not a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. In addition to talking about tax policy and Afghanistan, Republican candidates have also felt the need to speak out against the menace of “sharia.” 
With the 2012 presidential campaign season getting under way, a rising tide of experts, politicians and pundits are warning of “creeping Shariah” — the notion that any day now, the U.S. Constitution will be swept away by Islamic religious law, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Never mind that it isn’t true and isn’t possible. It plays well in certain quarters.
Republican candidates have successfully played the “fear card” using Muslims as their Ace. They gain significant political mileage with some of their constituents by mainstreaming the manufactured myth of “creeping sharia” taking over the U.S.
The non-existent threat of Sharia, or Islamic law, to the American way of life is going to be a major debate topic among Republican presidential candidates this cycle. As the Republican presidential nomination process begins, at least two GOP potential candidates are making a name for themselves as the Islamophobia candidates.
Mike Huckabee, recently referred to Islam as the “antithesis of the gospel of Christ.” In an interview on “Fox and Friends” he also seemed to compare Muslim prayer being allowed in a church to the showing of pornographic films. The former Arkansas governor appeared in program, Fox and Friends, to discuss the initiative of a small Tennessee church to allow Muslims to worship when mosques in the area proved too small or were under construction. Huckabee was clearly incensed with the news that Muslims were worshipping in a church. Huckabee said: “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.” He then goes on to make the argument that the church should not be open to pornographic film screenings, either, to which he is asked directly whether he is “likening Islam to pornography.” “I’m sure bloggers will say that,” he answered coyly. “I’ll read 300 blog accounts that will say that by noon today.”
Another GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain told ThinkProgress: ‘I would not’ appoint a Muslim in my administration. Earlier this week, Cain gave an interview to Christianity Today in which he declared that, “based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.” ThinkProgress asked him, in light of his statements on Islam, would he be comfortable appointing any Muslims in his administration. Rather than skirting the question or hedging his answer, as most presidential aspirants do, Cain was definitive: “No, I would not.” Cain went on to say: “There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”
Islamophobia at the GOP debate in New Hampshire
The seven-million strong American Muslim community was dismayed at the anti-Muslim sentiment displayed by Republican presidential candidates during June 13, 2011 debate in New Hampshire. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s compared Muslims to Nazis. 
Gingrich responded to questions about loyalty tests for administration officials, he referred to the case of attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad himself took an oath when he became an American citizen and compared hiring Muslims to how Americans dealt with Nazis in the 1940s. ”We did this in dealing with the Nazis. We did this in dealing with the Communists. And it was controversial both times and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say, ‘No,’” he concluded.
Gingrich brought up the same example of the attempted Times Square bomber’s loyalty at a debate in February, saying he “lied [about his loyalty to America] to get American citizenship.”
Although he might have created a firestorm, this isn’t the first time Gingrich has made such a comparison and, to many, his most recent comments are anything but surprising.
Gingrich spoke fervently in August 2010 against the proposed mosque and community center to be built near Ground Zero, saying that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to do so just as “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington,” or “we would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”
The Former House speaker has suggested a federal anti-Sharia law. He also said: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they [his grandchildren] are my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists. …” Gingrich once issued a statement calling for a ban on all mosques near Ground Zero “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”
Last July, Newt Gingrich told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the Islamic practice of Sharia was “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” Gingrich also claimed that “Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world.”
Toeing the GOP anti-Muslim line, Missouri State’s Republican Rep. Don Wells in March 2011 referred to Islamic principles, or Sharia, as a “disease” like polio. Wells made that comparison during a meeting of the Missouri House Judiciary Committee, which was discussing a bill Wells has proposed to ban consideration of Sharia in that state’s courts. When a Democratic lawmaker asked if Wells really believes Sharia law is like polio, he replied, “Absolutely.”
Islamophobia in 2010 elections
Since 9/11, there has been a steady rise in Islamophobia, however during mid-term election campaign there was an exponential rise of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry. Many Religious Right leaders and opportunist politicians asserted over and over that Islam is not a religion at all but a political cult, that Muslims cannot be good Americans and that mosques are fronts for extremist ‘jihadis.’ There was a substantial increase in the number of political candidates using Islamophobic tactics in an effort to leverage votes, and use such tactics as a platform to enhance their political visibility. 
A few examples: A Minnesota Republican congressional candidate, Lynne Torgerson, says that the religion of Islam cannot be protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, one of three Republican candidates running for governor, says Islam may be called a “cult” instead of a religion. Ron McNeil, a Florida congressional candidate tells local high and middle class students that Islam is against everything America stands for. Another Florida Republican candidate for Congress, Dan Fanelli, runs television ads in which he points to a white man and asks, “Does this look like a terrorist?” and then turns to an Arab-looking man and asks, “Or this?” A Texas congressional hopeful, Canyon Clowdus, wants no more Muslim immigration to America. 
Not surprisingly, and Muslims rejected the Republican Party at the polls in 2008 and 2010. According to the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, just 2.2 percent of Muslims voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008.
As Stephan Salisbury reported, during the 2010 midterm election campaign, virtually every hard-charging candidate on the far right took a moment to trash a Muslim, a mosque, or Islamic pieties. In the wake of those elections, with 85 new Republican House members and a surging Tea Party movement, the political virtues of anti-Muslim rhetoric as a means of rousing voters and alarming the general electorate have gone largely unchallenged. It has become an article of faith that a successful 2010 candidate on the right should treat Islam with revulsion, drawing a line between America the Beautiful and the destructive impurities of Islamic cultists and radicals. 
 The sharia myth sweeps America by Amy Sullivan – USA TODAY- June 12, 2011]
 As Muslim-Bashing Propaganda Swells, Shariah Scare Takes Off – The Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Fall 2011, Issue Number: 143
 GOP Debate: Newt Gingrich’s Comparison of Muslims and Nazis Sparks Outrage – ABC NEWS June 14, 2011]
 2010 another hard year for American Muslims by Abdus Sattar Ghazali
 Islam-baiting doesn’t work – It failed in campaign 2010 and will do worse in 2012 by Stephan Salisbury