Following offensive remarks against the sizable Muslim minority, a US Republican White House aspirant has apologized for American Muslims for his anti-Muslim comments.
“I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the US Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it,” Herman Cain said in a statement cited by The Daily Caller newspaper.
“Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully.”
Cain has sparked uproar by a series of offensive statements against US Muslims.
He said earlier this month that he would support efforts to block the building of mosques in the United States.
The Republican hopeful had earlier said in March that he would not appoint a Muslim in his administration.
He later modified his position by calling for an unconstitutional “loyalty” oath for Muslim appointees.
Seeking to rebuild relations frayed by his offensive comments, Cain held a meeting with Muslim leaders Wednesday at the ADAMS Center in Sterling, Virginia, to discuss politics and religion.
“Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully,” Cain said. (Reuters)
He also toured the ADAMS Center, which serves over 5,000 families in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
“As I expected, we discovered we have much more in common in our values and virtues,” Cain said.
US Muslims have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by Republican representative Peter King on what he described as “radicalization” of US Muslims.
Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as ‘occupiers’ of American neighborhoods.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
Getting a true picture of the Islamic faith, the presidential candidate left the meeting with an entirely different view of Muslims and their worship places.
“He seemed genuinely surprised,” Robert Marro, a trustee at the ADAMS Center mosque in Northern Virginia, told The Talking Points Memo (TPM).
“It was almost like he was saying, ‘I should’ve known better.”
The Republican hopeful was touched during a discussion with the center’s staff on last week’s mass killings in Norway, which were initially blamed on Muslims before it was proved out that a Christian fanatic was the attacker.
“He said, ‘when I was growing up, they always said it was some renegade black person who did wrong,'” Marro said.
“One of the things that he said a number of times: there’s a great deal of common ground between us.”
Cain also questioned if Muslim leaders were really seeking to enforce Shari`ah in the US, a claim denied by Muslims.
“He was getting a lot misinformation,” Marro said.
The same type of thing happens a lot, he added.
Lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
Seeking to better educate non-Muslims about Islam, ADAMS mosque officials offered Cain, who is a prominent Southern Baptist, the chance to come back and give a sermon to the ADAMS congregation.
“Come to the horse’s mouth,” said Marro. “If you think [mosques] are hotbeds of terrorism, come visit.”