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Despite backlash, Ben Carson is not backing down from his opposition to a Muslim president

Despite backlash, Ben Carson is not backing down from his opposition to a Muslim president

By Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post

On Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said he would not support a Muslim president.

It was only a matter of hours before others were clamoring to say that they would not support a presidential candidate who wouldn’t support a Muslim president.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said that Carson should apologize to American Muslims. Ted Cruz reminded Carson that “the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office.” John Kasichsaid the most important qualifications to be president were unrelated to religion. Bernie Sanders was “disappointed” in Carson’s statement and Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim member of congress, issued astatement condemning Carson and Donald Trump, whose past comments about Islam prompted Carson’s anti-Muslim-president assertion in the first place.

“For Ben Carson, Donald Trump, or any other Republican politician to suggest that someone of any faith is unfit for office is out of touch with who we are as a people,” he wrote. “It’s unimaginable that the leading GOP presidential candidates are resorting to fear mongering to benefit their campaigns, and every American should be disturbed that these national figures are engaging in and tolerating blatant acts of religious bigotry.”

Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Carson to withdraw from the race.

“It’s beyond the pale,” CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper told NBC.

But for the most part, Carson is standing by his comments — when asked byNBC’s Chuck Todd whether he thought Islam is consistent with the Constitution, he responded, “No I don’t. I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

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