A Project of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Islamophobia in the 2016 Presidential Election


As of September 28, 2016, the threshold for inclusion on this list is participation in a debate hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates. This page is intended to provide readers with insights into the presidential candidates’ views on Islam, anti-constitutional policy proposals and connections with the U.S. Islamophobia network.

CAIR neither opposes nor supports any candidate for public office. This page provides only statements and information made public after the individual declared his or her candidacy.

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Democratic Nominee

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Supports no fly, no buy. During the first presidential debate, Secretary Clinton said, “we finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who is on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun.” CAIR has questioned the policy given that current watch list procedures do not afford people the constitutional right to due process and the ability to effectively challenge inappropriate watch list designations. Republican legislators voted down non fly, no buy legislation because it violated due process rights and also due to “high error” rates on watch lists.

Often securitizes American Muslim community. During the first presidential debate, Clinton said, “We need to be cooperating with Muslim nations and with the American Muslim community. They’re on the frontlines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else. They need to have close working cooperation with law enforcement in these communities, not be alienated and pushed away.” Similarly, during a Democratic debate in Milwaukee, Clinton addressed comments Donald Trump made about Muslims, saying: “…we need to understand that American Muslims are on the front line of our defense. They are more likely to know what’s happening in their families and their communities, and they need to feel not just invited, but welcomed within the American society.” Clinton added, “So when somebody like Donald Trump and others stirs up the demagoguery against American Muslims, that hurts us at home. It’s not only offensive; it’s dangerous. And the same goes for overseas, where we have to put together a coalition of Muslim nations… And you don’t go tell Muslim nations you want them to be part of a coalition when you have a leading candidate for president of the United States who insults their religion.”

Opposes national database of American Muslims. Clinton called GOP candidate Donald Trump’s suggestion of a national database of Muslims “shocking rhetoric” that should be “denounced by all.” “Islam itself is not our adversary,” said Clinton, “This is not and we should not let it become a clash of civilizations.”

Opposes special patrols of predominately Muslim neighborhoods. In a foreign policy speech Clinton rejected Senator Ted Cruz’s proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods saying: “So when Republican candidates like Ted Cruz call for treating American Muslims like criminals and for racially profiling predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, it’s wrong, its counterproductive, it’s dangerous.”

States broad-brush attacks on Muslims are harmful; supports inclusive nation. At a CNN Democratic town hall at Drake University Erum Tariq-Munir, a Muslim American U.S. Air Force veteran and mother of three asked Clinton how she would protect the constitutional rights of all Americans without sidelining any one community. Clinton responded: “One of the most distressing aspects of this campaign has been the language of Republican candidates, particularly their front-runner, that insults, demeans, denigrates different people. [Trump] has cast a wide net. He started on Mexicans. He’s currently on Muslims. But I found it particularly harmful the way that he has talked about Muslims – American Muslims and Muslims around the world.”

Clinton added: “I have called [Trump] out continuously about that. It’s not only shameful and contrary to our values to say that people of a certain religion should never come to this country or to claim that there are no real people of the Muslim faith who share our values. And to have that kind of dismissive and insulting approach, it’s not only shameful and offensive – which it is – I think it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because American Muslims deserve better, and now their children and they are the target of Islamophobia, of threats. I’ve met a number of parents who have said their children are afraid to go to school because they’re worried about how they will be treated. And we cannot tolerate this. And we must stand up and say every person in this country deserves to be treated with respect and we must stand up against the bullying.”

In March, the Clinton campaign released a video speaking about the diversity of New York ahead of that state’s primary which included images of a Muslim woman wearing an American flag head covering. In the video, Clinton says: “So when some say we can solve America’s problems by building walls, banning people based on their religion and turning against each other, well, this is New York, and we know better.”

In a late 2015 campaign video titled “Leadership,” Clinton is seen wearing a headscarf while on a state visit to Pakistan in 2009. Islamophobic groups attacked her for the diplomatic gesture.

After 14-year-old Muslim Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing an electronic clock he had made to school to show off to his teacher in Texas, Clinton tweeted, “Assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building.”

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Republican Nominee

In early 2015, CAIR wrote an open letter to GOP nomination hopefuls urging them to engage Muslim voters and reject Islamophobia.

Donald Trump


Proposes to ban Muslims from the United States. “Trump has purposely and methodically made his proposed Muslim ban — and suspicion of American Muslims — a centerpiece of his nativist pitch,” according to Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson.

In December 2015, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. Such a ban would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. In the press release release accompanying the policy proposal, Trump cited a biased and unscientific poll conducted by Islamophobe Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.

Trump later altered the Muslim ban saying, “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time it’s proven that vetting mechanisms have been put in place.”

In his first campaign ad for television, Trump highlighted the call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. In June 2016, Trump said, “I called for a ban after  [the] San Bernardino [terror attack] and was met with great scorn and anger but now, many are saying I was right to do so.” He added, “The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.”

Trump asserts that the ban on Muslims would help make Muslim allies “stronger toward” the United States.

In an interview on Fox News, Trump said if elected he might consider former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to lead a commission that would “take a very serious look” at “radical Islam” and study his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. In May, Trump said he was “happy” London had elected its first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan and that Khan would be among those exempted from his proposed ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S.

Has attacked a Gold Star family. After the parent’s of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who died in the line of duty in Iraq spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Trump attacked them. Trump implied that the mother, who was overcome with grief, did not speak because “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” The quote was widely seen as an allegation that the parent’s Islamic faith prohibits the mother from speaking in public.

Asserts that American Muslims do not report “bad” people to law enforcement. FBI Director and Muslim who reported Orlando shooter disagree. Following a horrific massacre of club goers in Orlando, Trump asserted that American Muslims, “know what’s going on. They know that [Orlando shooter Omar Mateen] was bad.” He later added “They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. … But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death and destruction.” However, an American Muslim had previously reported Mateen to the FBI. In the wake of the Orlando terror attack, FBI Director Comey said, “…some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim.”

Asserts U.S. Muslims do not assimilate; “looking at” getting rid of Muslim women at TSA and border protection agency; thinks a Muslim judge might treat him unfairly. Trump believes there is “no real assimilation” by U.S. Muslims; however, independent factcheckers disagree. During a question and answer session in New Jersey, a Trump supporter asked the candidate, “Why aren’t we putting our military retirees on that border or in TSA? Get rid of all these hibi-jabis they wear at TSA?” Trump responded, “You know, and we are looking at that. And we are looking at that. We’re looking at a lot of things.” When asked if he believed a Muslim judge would treat him unfairly because of another controversial proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the U.S., Trump replied: “It’s possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”

Would “certainly implement” a database and special identification cards for American Muslims. Asked about establishing a possible database of Muslims and the idea of requiring Muslims to carry special identification cards in the United States, Trump responded, “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.” In an NBC News video Trump added his support for such registration being required by law, “They have to be.”

Opposes internment camps for American Muslims. While calling-in to interview with ABC’s This Week host Jonathan Karl, Trump definitively asserted that he would not put American Muslims in internment camps.

Proposes to shut down American mosques. Trump said he would “shut down” mosques he deemed “extreme” if he is elected president.

“Can envision” a U.S. Muslim becoming President. In response to a question on Meet the Press about the possibility of a Muslim becoming the U.S. president, “Mr. Trump said he could envision a day when a Muslim was president, but he would not say how comfortable he was with the idea, according to the New York Times.

Believes “Islam hates us” and American Muslims have a “level of hatred.” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I think Islam hates us. I think Islam hates us. There is something there, a tremendous hatred,” and “and we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.” Responding to a follow-up question by Cooper on whether or not he was talking about violent extremist or Islam itself, Trump said: “It’s radical but it’s very hard to define, it’s very hard to separate because you don’t know who’s who.”

Trump believes “there is a level of hatred” in the American Muslim community.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, an audience member asked Trump, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. Our current president is one. We know he’s not even an American.” The questioner added “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?” Trump responded: “A lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that and a lot of different things.”

Trump blamed the disappearance of an EgyptAir Flight 804 on terrorism before authorities had confirmed the crash. Following the disappearance, Trump alluded to his past comments there was a “Great hate” and “sickness” within Islam and Muslims in a tweet. Trump’s campaign immediately followed this by issuing a press release that said in part the plane’s disappearance was caused by “Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

Views on Syrian refugees and other immigrants. Trump called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants to “screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles ― or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.”

Trump asserts that Somali Muslims in Minnesota are a safety issue because “Creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s — I mean the state is having tremendous problems — its safety net, and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamic terror groups.”

During a campaign stop in Rhode Island, Trump told attendees to “lock your doors” because Syrian refugees, some of whom he claimed may be ISIS were going to be resettled in the state. Trump made the false claim that: “There are scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism. For every case known to the public, there are dozens and dozens more. ” Fact checking this statement, the Washington Post found, “there is no evidence that ‘scores’ of ‘recent migrants’ are charged with terrorism” and gave the comment “Four Pinocchios.”

Trump said on The Green Line radio show that resettling Syrian refugees in America would lead to another attack proportional to events of September 11. Trump added: “Our country has enough difficulty right now without letting the Syrians pour in, and again, we don’t know that they’re Syrians… There will be attacks that you wouldn’t believe. There will be attacks by the people that are, right now that are coming into our country…”

Proposes for U.S to violate the Geneva Convention. Trump proposed that the U.S. abandon the Geneva Convention and kill the families of terrorists.

Uses debunked story about killing Muslims with pork-covered bullets. During a campaign rally in South Carolina Trump referenced the long-debunked anecdote that General John Pershing shot Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood as part of a counterinsurgency campaign during the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902. Trump told the crowd: “They were having terrorism problems, just like we do.” At a California campaign stop Trump again repeated the long-debunked story.

Uses debunked story about American Muslims celebrating terror attack. Trump falsely claimed he saw video of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after 9/11.Trump also falsely claimed the families of the 9/11 terrorists were “sent back for the most part to Saudi Arabia.”

Asserts ignorance of any American Muslim athletes. Trump claims to be ignorant of any American Muslim athletes; however, there are photos online of Trump with boxing legend Muhammad Ali and basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neil, all Muslim converts.

Asserts President Obama “founded” ISIS. Trump asserts that President Obama “was the founder of ISIS.”

Campaign advisors. Trump advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was a potential Vice Presidential pick said, “I don’t see Islam as a religion.” Flynn also likens Islam to “a cancer.” Flynn is on the board of directors of ACT for America, an anti-Islam hate group.

Agricultural advisory committee co-chair Sid Miller supports making peace with “the Muslim World” through nuclear attacks.

Advisor Roger Stone retweeted a false allegation that Gold Star father Khizr Khan is a “Muslim Brotherhood agent who wants to advance sharia law.”

In a meeting with the Washington Post’s editorial board, Trump named Walid Phares as one of his foreign policy advisers. As the Post pointed out, “Phares was once a leading ideologue in an armed Christian faction during Lebanon’s grim, bloody sectarian civil conflict of the 1980s.” A 2011 Mother Jones article noted: “During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues.”

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Democrats Who Withdrew or Suspended During the Primaries

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley



O’Malley visited the All Dulles Area Muslims Society in Northern Virginia to express solidarity with Muslims. During that visit O’Malley called Donald Trump a “hate preacher.”

During a meeting with Arab Americans in Dearborn, Michigan, O’Malley reminded his audience that “some employers in America once refused to hire Irish-American Catholics.” He denounced “Islamophobia and xenophobia” and also said that that a “shadowy network of hateful” groups is “scapegoating and marginalizing Arab and Muslim Americans.”



 Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders 1Opposes national database of American Muslims. When Donald Trump suggested the possibility of a database of Muslims in the United States, Sanders called the idea “outrageous and bigoted.” He added, “We will not destroy ISIS by undermining the Constitution and our religious freedoms.”

Support for possibility of U.S. Muslim as President. After Republican candidate Ben Carson said he would not vote for a Muslim for U.S. President, Sander’s tweeted, “I am very disappointed that Dr. Carson would suggest that a Muslim should not become president of the United States.”

Support for inclusive nation. During a MSNBC and Telemundo town hall, Sanders stated that as president he would “bluntly and directly” address Islamophobia and went on to say: “… it is absolutely unacceptable to me that in the year 2016 we have people like Donald Trump and others who are trying to gain votes by scapegoating people who may be Muslims or people who may be Latinos. That is unacceptable.”

A week before the Michigan primaries, Sanders released an Arabic language radio campaign ad in Dearborn stating: “Republican candidates are attacking Muslims because of their religion. Bernie Sanders wants to end the racism and hatred that divides us.”

In December 2015, Sanders  visited Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C. While there he called on all Americans to condemn “anti-Muslim rhetoric and hatred.”

Asked about Islamophobia while at a campaign event, Sanders said, “If we stand for anything we have to stand together and end all forms of racism in this country. I will lead that effort as president.”

Following the wrongful arrest of a Texas Muslim teen who brought a DIY electronic clock to school Sander’s tweeted “we must stand strong against anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Individuals associated with Sanders’ campaign. On December 17, Sanders tweeted: “[Iowa Republican Congressman] Steve King’s attack on @KeithEllison is the kind of bigotry we must reject. Keith’s life of service represents the best of American values.” This tweet came after Congressman King publicly questioned on MSNBC whether Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, would put the Constitution above Sharia Law (Islamic religious principles and ethical code of conduct). Sanders nominated Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress and the Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, to the Democratic Party’s National Convention Platform Drafting Committee.

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Republicans Who Withdrew or Suspended During the Primaries

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush


Following President Obama’s February speech on fighting Islamophobia, Bush reflected during a radio interview that it is: “important for the president to lead in this regard” and “it also sends a signal to the millions of peaceful Muslims that are as American as you and I and it’s important for people to know that they have worth, that they have value, that we’re all, you know, we’re all American.”

When a database of Muslims in the United States was suggested by Donald Trump, Bush remarked that “there are no Christian terrorists wandering around the world trying to take out peace-loving Muslims” but “we should not be disrespectful of Muslims in our country” and added that he found the database idea “abhorrent.”

Bush accused Trump of “manipulating people’s angst and their fears” with both the database suggestion and a separate proposal to close U.S. mosques.

When fears of Syrian Muslim refugees became a campaign issue, Bush suggested that America should “focus” its efforts on “Christians” who are refugees. Unlike many other GOP candidates, Bush said he would not ban Syrian refugees.

In March 2015, Bush appointed Jordan Sekulow as a senior advisor to his Right to Rise Political Action Committee. 

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations wrote a letter to Bush requesting that he drop Sekulow. In part that letter read, “Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), an organization that in 2011 published an anti-Muslim pamphlet titled ‘Shari’a Law: Radical Islam’s Threat to the U.S. Constitution,’ which falsely claims that ‘devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America. To date, Bush has not responded to the letter.

Ben Carson


On the Mark Levin show, Carson repeated the discredited conspiracy theory about “civilizational jihad,” a fantastical plan about a Muslim plot to take over America.

Carson declared that after studying Islam: “…you won’t call it a religion, you’ll call it a life organization system.” Prior to that statement, Carson said, “I don’t think most people actually understand what jihad is. They don’t understand the whole apocalyptic vision that they [Muslims] have. When you understand that, you understand what drives an organization like ISIS.”

In a February interview with Breitbart, Carson said Muslims could embrace American Democracy “Only if they’re schizophrenic,” adding, “I don’t see how they can do it otherwise, because they have two different philosophies boring at you [that contradict each other]. That would be very difficult.” 

Carson said, “I agree,” following South Carolina GOP chairman Matt Moore’s message to Muslim students at Carolina State University: “You are as American as me and Dr. Carson and Ben Watson. You guys should know that,” and “I despise any anti-Muslim rhetoric in this country.” Carson had been seated next to Moore, when Moore made the statement.

When Syrian Muslim refugees became a campaign issue, Carson said, “Bringing in people from the Middle East right now carries extra danger and we cannot put our people at risk because we are trying to be politically correct.” Carson also compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs.

When shown a poll indicating that 51 percent of likely U.S. voters would not be willing to vote for a Muslim for president, Carson said “I’m surprised it’s only 51 percent” and laughed.

Robert Dees, Carson’s key foreign policy advisor, “strongly suspects that all Muslims are terrorists and that the United States should have a military strategy based on Christian evangelism.”

Speaking on Meet the Press, Carson said Islam is not consistent with the U.S. Constitution. He also said he would not vote for a Muslim for president. Even after it was pointed out that Article VI of the Constitution prohibits such religious tests for public office, Carson refused to alter his stand and later added that the next president should “be sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Qur’an.” Asked about his Meet the Press remarks during a CNN interview, Carson added, “I would have problems with somebody who embraced all the doctrines associated with Islam. If they are not willing to reject sharia and all the portions of it that are talked about in the Quran.”

Carson has said he would appoint a Muslim to the Supreme Court if they reject “Sharia,” or Islamic religious principles.

In an interview with Breitbart, Carson said followers of radical Islam, “have the same goal as they did when Mohammed was around. They want to dominate. And they want everyone else to submit to them.” The false notion that violent extremists represent the authentic teachings and practices of Prophet Mohammad is a common Islamophobic trope. 

Displaying a lack of familiarity with Islam during an interview with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Carson opined that violent extremist Sunnis and violent extremist Shias could unite against the United States. A commentator in the conservative National Review noted that this assertion is “one that many foreign policy experts would likely dismiss entirely.”

Carson initially said he saw video of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey after the 9/11 terror attacks. He later said this recollection was a “mistake.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Chris Christie

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Christie addressed the issue of wrongful profiling Muslims, saying that, “we can’t categorize people just by their religion” and “I know from seven years as a federal prosecutor there’s a big difference between someone who is a peaceful, hardworking Muslim-American and someone who focuses on their religion.” Christie added: “I have a great relationship with the Muslim-American community in my state. I’ve worked with them, hosted them as our guests as governor.”

During a Republican debate, Christie discussed the nation’s relationship with Muslims by stating, “I have had the experience of working with them [Muslims] as Governor of New Jersey as well. We cannot mix the radical Islamic jihadists with everyday Muslim Americans. New Jersey has the second largest Muslim American population in America of any state. These are good law abiding, hardworking people. What they needs is our cooperation and understanding. They do not need just broadsides against them because of their religious faith they practice.”

Pressed by Fox News Republican debate moderator Megyn Kelly to change his stance against profiling Muslims following the San Bernardino shootings, Christie held firm in his response: “Because you can do it without profiling Megyn. You do it on the facts. What those folks knew was that these folks had weapons, they knew that they were talking about trying to take our country and attack it. That’s not profiling, that’s law enforcement. And that’s the difference between somebody who knows how to do this and somebody who’s never done it before.”

When Syrian Muslim refugees became a campaign issue, Christie directed state agencies to stop helping Syrian refugees in New Jersey. He also said opposed Syrian refugees, even five-year-olds, entering America.

During a campaign stop in December 2015, Christie was asked about how he would deal with anti-Muslim stereotypes. In his answer he recounted visiting American Muslims after the 9/11 terror attacks and said, “[Muslims] are Americans too. And they love this country and they care deeply about its future.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz


Cruz appointed designated hate group leader Frank Gaffney and other Islamophobes as foreign policy advisers. Gaffney’s organization, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), is an anti-Muslim hate group. Cruz’s list of foreign policy advisers also included two people who work for CSP – Fred Fleitz and Clare Lopez.

Cruz also appointed Andrew McCarthy, who has echoed Gaffney’s view that Muslims seek to impose Islamic law in America. Another appointee was retired Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who has stated that “[Islam] should not be protected under the First Amendment,” that there should be “no mosques in America” and that there can be no interfaith dialogue or cooperation between Muslims and Christians.

Following a terror attack in Brussels, Belguim, Cruz issued a campaign statement calling for the United States to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” New York Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton criticized the proposal as “out of line,” an assessment that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed with.

In an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Cruz invoked the discredited claim that Muslims in Europe have set up so-called no-go zones. Titled, “Ted Cruz replies to Bill Bratton on NYPD’s demographics unit and the fight against Jihadist terrorism,” the op-ed was written in part to defend Cruz’s unconstitutional call for law-enforcement to patrol “Muslim neighborhoods.”

Cruz’s national security advisor Boykin made the false claim that there were “Sharia courts” in Texas and Michigan on the Sandy Rios in the Morning radio show. Citing false claims made by the Family Research Council, where Boykin serves as executive vice president, he said in part: “it is reported that you have a Sharia court in Texas, for example, and Michigan, and you’re going to see more of that if people don’t wake up and take a stand against this and recognize the nature of the threat.” The statement was not rebuked by the Cruz campaign.

During the April 2016 National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, Cruz’s congressional staff refused to meet with 14 Texas Muslim constituents. The delegates had tried to arrange a meeting for several weeks prior to today’s event.

Cruz rejected another candidate’s a policy proposal to establish a database of Muslims in the United States saying, “I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens. The First Amendment protects religious liberty.”

When Syrian Muslim refugees became a campaign issue, Cruz said, that to “bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslims to America, is nothing short of crazy.”

Cruz appointed Kevin Kookogey, the former chair of the Williamson County, Tenn. Republican Party as his 2016 Presidential Campaign’s Tennessee chair. In 2012, Kookogey oversaw the adoption of a resolution condemning Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam for appointing a Muslim lawyer to the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. The resolution stated in part: “Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has elevated and/or afforded preferential political status to Sharia adherents in Tennessee, thereby aiding and abetting the advancement of an ideology and doctrine which is wholly incompatible with the Constitution of the United States and the Tennessee Constitution.” Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier defended Kookogey’s anti-Muslim resolution as “defending American law under the U.S. Constitution” and said she could not see how it “is anti-Muslim.”

Cruz has displayed a comfort with Islamophobic groups. In early 2015, he accepted an invitation to speak at two summits, one in Iowa and one in South Carolina, hosted by Gaffney’s CSP. At one of the conferences, Cruz told audience members that the, “9/11 Hijackers Weren’t Just a Bunch of Ticked-Off Presbyterians.”

Carly Fiorina



Fiorina said Ben Carson’s notion that a Muslim could not be president was “wrong” adding, “You know, it says in our Constitution that religion cannot be a test for office.” She also said, “But whether it’s a person of Christian faith, or Jewish faith, or Muslim faith, or other faiths, I think faith gives us humility and empathy and optimism, and I think those are important things.”

When a questioner at a campaign stop suggested Muslims get out of America, Fiorina replied, “I’m not willing to condemn any group of people. I’m willing to judge each individual.”


South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham

During a GOP presidential debate in December 2015, Graham said “Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do. Declare war on Islam itself.  ISIL would be dancing in the streets, they just [don’t] believe in dancing. This is a coup for them, and to all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, like the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt, I am sorry. He does not represent us. If I am President, we will work together. People in the faith to all over the world destroy this radical ideology. Declaring war on the religion only helps ISIL.”

After fellow candidate Ben Carson said Islam is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution, Graham tweeted that Carson “is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief” and that he should “apologize to American Muslims.

During a Republican Presidential debate Graham said that “Islamic websites need to be monitored and if you’re on one I wanna know what you’re doing.”  

At a campaign stop in Iowa in July 2015, a man started to propose outlawing Islam in the United States. Graham cut him off and said, “You know what, I’m not your candidate. I don’t want you to vote for me. I couldn’t disagree with you more.” After the event, Graham added, “I’m not buying into that construct. That’s not the America that I want to lead.”

On June 24, 2015, Graham gave a speech on the U.S. Senate floor discussing a white supremacist who murdered several people in Charleston, South Carolina. Graham alleged that the murderer displayed “Mideast hate.” The Middle East encompasses many different nations and peoples and to assert that a certain type of hate comes from that region of the world is problematic.

In 2011, during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil and Human Rights hearing on ‘Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims‘ Senator Graham stated that “those who have freedom of speech, it’s a gift given to you by a lot of people risking their own lives. So when you say things here at home or you do things here at home that create tension based on religious differences, particularly when it’s the Muslim community involved, your putting our soldiers at risk” and “there are plenty of Muslims who wear our uniform and we need to understand that, again, we’re all in this together.”

During a 2013 interview with Fox News Radio, Graham asserted that the common Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for ‘God is Greatest’) is a war chant. Muslims all over the world use this phrase multiple times per day, in their calls to prayer and in their daily lives.

In May, 2015, Graham said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee New England Leadership Dinner that “Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula… Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news.” In Arabic, “al” means the word “the.” Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop informed the Washington Post that “al-being-bad-news line is a joke that’s part of Graham’s regular stump speech — and one that he’s told for many years.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee


Opining on a controversy over allowing Syrian Muslim refugees to enter the country, Huckabee said, “It’s time to wake up and smell the falafel. We are importing terrorism.”

During a discussion about surveillance of American mosques, Huckabee said, “If Islam is as wonderful and peaceful as its adherents say, shouldn’t they be begging us to all come in and listen to these peaceful sermons?” American mosque leaders frequently hold open houses and invite guests to attend Friday prayers.

While crticizing a church that was allowing Muslims to use its facility for prayer in 2011, Huckabee said that according to Islam, “Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated.” Huckabee went on to compare the church allowing Muslims a space to pray to be like the church allowing pornographic films to be shown.

Huckabee again shared his views of Islam in 2013 saying, “why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called holiest days. … the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday” and “So the Muslims will go to the mosque, and they will have their day of prayer, and they come out of there like uncorked animals — throwing rocks and burning cars.”

During previous campaigns, Huckabee has employed sharia-scare tactics, using the term as a bogeyman to frighten voters. He has similarly used anti-Islam buzz words to smear President Obama saying, “that I do think he has a different worldview and I think it’s, in part, molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal


In his role as governor of Louisiana, Jindal took steps to prohibit refugees from Syria from his state when fearmongers alleged that such refugees were a threat to national security.

Jindal rejected Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States saying it was “not a serious proposal.”

Responding to Ben Carson’s anti-Islam comments, Jindal issued a statement in which he said,  “If you can find me a Muslim candidate…who will place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, then yes, I will be happy to consider voting for him or her.” Article 2 of the Constitution, which provides for the presidential oath of office, imposes no requirement that the presidential oath be taken on a Bible, or any other book. For example, neither John Quincy Adams nor Teddy Roosevelt used a Bible for their swearing in ceremonies.

Asked about the arrest of Texas ninth-grader Ahmed Mohammed for bringing a DIY electronic clock to school to show off to his teachers, Jindal pivoted the question to an attack on Muslims. Asked how to strike a balance between vigilance and discrimination Jindal started by saying, “we don’t discriminate against anyone based on the color of their skin or their creed.” He then said Muslim leaders need to denounce violent extremists by name, something Muslims have been doing for years, and “[Muslims] have to explicitly embrace the same freedoms for everybody else they want for themselves.”  He did ultimately agree that a 14-year-old should never be arrested for bringing a clock to school.  

In early 2015, Jindal adopted the discredited claim that Muslims in Europe have set up so-called no-go zones that people of other faiths and police are not allowed to enter. Previously, Fox News was forced to apologize several times for a similar “no-go zone” claim made by self-proclaimed terrorism ‘expert’ Steven Emerson. In response to Emerson’s claim, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Frankly I choked on my porridge and thought it must be April’s Fools Day. This guy is clearly a complete idiot.”

In a speech in London, Jindal claimed, “non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home.” He added that “it is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so-called ‘no-go zone.'”

When a journalist later pressed Jindal to provide examples of “no-go zones,” he could not offer specifics to support his claim.

Jindal then proposed barring “dangerous” Muslims “who want to come to our country but not adopt our values” from entering the U.S. While all Americans value national security, the notion of government policing ideology or interpreting religion is Constitutionally-questionable. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly challenged Jindal saying, “This is a country with lots of crazy beliefs. And actually, some religions continue to treat women as second-class citizens — and it’s not just some forms of Islam. Are we going to start banning everybody who doesn’t treat women or children or criminals, for that matter, the way we like?”

Jindal attended the South Carolina National Security Action Summit in March 2015. The event was sponsored in part by Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, a key group in the U.S. Islamophobia network. In a video promoting the Summit, Jindal said: “Muslim leaders need to condemn anyone who commits these acts of violence and clearly state that these people are evil and are enemies of Islam. It’s not enough to simply condemn violence, they must stand up and loudly proclaim that these people are not martyrs who will receive a reward in the afterlife, and rather they are murderers who are going to hell. If they refuse to do that, then they’re part of the problem. There is no middle ground here.” This false allegation is widely disproven. [For just a single example of the extensive Muslim condemnations and actions opposing violent extremism see here. To see a letter signed by major Muslim scholars, including American Muslims, sent to ISIS and deconstructing its theology see here.]

Former New York Gov. George Pataki




Pataki said a proposal to ban Muslims from the United States “is un-American, it is unconstitutional and it is wrong.”


Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul


In an interview, Paul stated that he would support restricting immigration into the United States from Muslim countries. “I’m for increasing scrutiny on people who come on student visas from the 25 countries that have significant jihadism. Also, any kind of permanent visas or green cards, we need to be very careful. I don’t think we’re being careful enough with who we let in.” In addition, Paul stated his interest in re-instating the NSEERS (National Security Entry Exit Registration System) Program. “There was a program in place that Bush had put in place—it stood for entry-exit program from about 25 different countries with a lot of Islamic radicals, frankly.”

NSEERS was established in 2002 by the Department of Justice and resulted in a wide scale registration program targeting male visitors from countries with Muslim-majority populations. Portions of the discriminatory program were suspended in 2011 and in 2012 the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General called for a full termination of NSEERS as the “database that supports this program is obsolete” and it “does not provide any increase in security.”

During a Fox News interview commenting on being patted down by TSA, Senator Paul said “I don’t think the random pat-downs are making us any safer. I want to know where the Middle Eastern students are that are here visiting our country. Are they in class, are they going to class, if they get on a plane. If you’ve been to Yemen twice in the last six months, I want to know who you are and know more about your travel. But most American citizens need to go through a relatively easy security process that’s not too invasive and doesn’t take away our dignity.”

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry



In 2005, Governor Perry participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a Texas mosque. He also worked to create the “Muslim Histories and Cultures” program “which has trained scores of teachers who have taught thousands of Texas students” the basics of Islam.

In 2011, Perry held a Christian prayer rally “using his office’s prestige, letterhead, Web site and other resources to promote it.” Muslim and Jewish groups raised objections to the event.

In 2014, Perry was a keynote speaker at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend Conference.



Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio


In February, during a Fox News presidential forum Rubio condemned news that an Oklahoma recreational gun range banned Muslims with “Muslim Free” signs as being “wrong” and “immoral.” In part, Rubio said: “The story you just told me is wrong. It’s immoral. We should not be doing that to people,” and “The bottom line is there are millions of patriotic Muslim Americans.”

Rubio added: “Our issue is not with patriotic Muslim Americans. It’s not even with Islam. It is with radical jihadis. It with radical Islam, which is a politicization and a radical ideology that threatens Islam.”

Rubio believes that American Muslims do not face discrimination. While commenting on President Obama’s visit to a Maryland mosque and condemnation of Islamophobia Rubio said Obama’s visit, “continues to put out this fiction that there’s widespread, systematic discrimination against Muslim Americans.” He followed this statement instead asserting that: “We are facing in this country Christian groups and groups that hold traditional values who feel, and in fact are, being discriminated against by the laws of this country that try to force them to violate their conscious.”

When Donald Trump suggested a database of Muslims in America, Rubio said the idea was “unnecessary.”

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum


In December, 2015, Santorum claimed on Des Moines television station KCCI’s “Close Up” program that the U.S. Constitution does not equally protect the religious liberties of Islam as it does Christianity. During the taping Santorum also said that he would restore the NSA’s illegal metadata spying program to target American Muslims.

Santorum did not necessarily agree with Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from the United States. He did add that, “World War III has begun and we have a leader who refuses to identify it and be truthful to the American people to the stakes that are involved, in part, because his policies have led us here.” This is apparently a reference to America’s conflict with Al-Qaeda, ISIS and their ideological allies.

Commenting on the Syrian refugee crisis, Santorum said, “There are serious questions here about Islam and the spread of Islam and how it spreads and, again, because the administration refuses to acknowledge that Islam has anything to do with anything, we can’t even have a discussion about why we’re taking only Muslims here in the United States.” According to the Pew Forum, only 10 percent of immigrants to the United States in 2012 were Muslim.

“Santorum calls Sharia, or Islamic religious principles, “an existential threat” to America. In a “lecture on Islam,” Santorum falsely claimed the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, was written in “Islamic.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

scottwalkerforsite2Walker exited the race in September 2015.

In August, Walker claimed that there are only a “handful of reasonable, moderate followers of Islam.”

Ashlee Strong, Governor Walker’s national press secretary, later wrote an email to ThinkProgress saying, “The Governor knows that the majority of ISIS’s victims are Muslims. Muslims who want to live in peace — the majority of Muslims — are the first target of radical Islamic terrorists. Under the Obama-Clinton foreign policy doctrine, we’ve been abandoning our traditional Muslim allies in the Middle East and allowing ISIS, al Qaeda, and Iran to fill the void.”

Walker’s campaign chairman Michael Grebe served as president and CEO of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Under Grebe’s leadership, the fund provided contributions to at least four inner core Islamophobic organizations. Grebe continued the financial support after the bias advanced by these groups was pointed out to him. Most recently, the fund provided $40,000 to Daniel PipesMiddle East Forum and $225,000 to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, according to its 2014 annual report.

In July it was revealed that Kevin Hermening, a foreign policy advisor for Walker’s campaign, had authored a 2001 commentary published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that called for “the immediate and unequivocal deportation of every illegal alien and immigrant, with a focus on removing those of Middle Eastern descent” and for “a massive military response that includes the destruction of the capitals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Yemen.” He wrote that every military response, including “nuclear weapons,” should be considered. When asked about the extremist views expressed in the commentary, a Walker campaign spokeswoman stood by Hermening.

As reported by the Intercept: “Walker responded to [news about Hermening’s column] on Monday. “I’ll speak for myself,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “My policy is very clear, and it’s not aligned with what he said in that particular column.” Walker told the newspaper that he does not consider Hermening an adviser, even though his campaign has featured him prominently. Walker’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.”

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