Gingrich call for Sharia ‘test’ riles Detroit Muslims

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Metro Detroit Muslim and Arab leaders say former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s call for expulsion from the United States of anyone who believes in Sharia law is to score political points and won’t divide them.

Gingrich said on Fox News following Thursday’s night’s truck attack in Nice, France, that the United States “should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”

The comments, hours after a Tunisian man drove the truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people, are reckless, irresponsible and bigoted, said Saad Chishty, a law student at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School, and will further embolden anti-Islamic hysteria.

“Reasonable, sensible and prudent Americans must exercise their civic duty to hold these publicly elected officials responsible for their misconduct and reckless behavior,” Saad said. “We have to galvanize and mobilize. This has to be addressed and nipped in the bud.”

Gingrich was under consideration as a running mate by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump before Trump announced Friday he had chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Gingrich calledthe attack “the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary, and to tell us the truth, and that starts with Barack Obama.”

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on Islamic Relations, said the First Amendment allows for the practice of religion as long as it does not infringe on other people’s rights.

“What Gingrich is putting forth is anti-America and against the Constitution of the United States,” Walid said.

Sam Beydoun, a 31-year-old Muslim from Dearborn, called Gingrich’s comments “outrageous.”

“This only fuels Islamophobia in the United States of America when you have government officials making these statements,” he said.

Nabih Ayad, founder of the Arab-American Civil Rights League, said Gingrich is being divisive.

“We must be mindful that we can’t jump to conclusions. History has showed us making knee-jerk reactions to hate doesn’t get anyone anywhere,” Ayad said.

That kind of rhetoric

“In Orlando attacks, it united all of us, whether you were a Muslim or not. This is the message we want to send. We are going to be stronger together,” Ayad said.

JChambers@detroitnews.com

Detroit News Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.