Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for all U.S. Muslims to be tested to see if they believe in the Islamic law of Shari‘a.
“Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Shari‘a, they should be deported,” Gingrich said in an interview Thursday on Fox News. “Shari‘a is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given upShari‘a, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”
The former Republican presidential contender’s comments were in response to the attack in Nice, France that left at least 84 people dead.
Gingrich, who is on Donald Trump’s vice presidential shortlist, is not the first Republican player in 2016 who has denounced Shari‘a law. In September, then-presidential candidate Ben Carson said he would not support a presidential candidate who had not renounced Shari‘a. He wrote in a Facebook post, “I know that there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs. But until these tenants are fully renounced… I cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for President.”
In June, after the Orlando nightclub shooting, Trump re-upped his call to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. Explaining his reasoning, he said, “According to Pew Research, 99% of people in Afghanistan support oppressive Shari‘a law.”
Many in the West believe Shari‘a to be a brutal system of retributive justice, but really it is a broad term for the set of ethical principles inscribed in the Quran that means different things to different adherents. As TIME reported in the wake of Orlando, “Demonizing every Muslim by equating Shari‘a and terrorism is akin to describing every Christian as a radical fundamentalist; the Bible can also be interpreted as requiring brutal punishments for archaic offenses.”