Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who angered many Muslims with his opinions on Muslim loyalty to the United States, Sharia law, and mosque construction, today apologized to a group of Muslim leaders after a meeting at an Islamic center in Northern Virginia.
In a statement released after the meeting, Cain said he is "humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends." Cain added that he is "truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it."
Cain caused controversy when he said earlier this year that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. Asked to explain his comments, he told Fox News that "I would have to have people totally committed to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, and many of the Muslims, they’re not totally dedicated to this country." During another appearance on Fox, Cain expressed support for opponents of a proposed mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Asked whether any community had a right to forbid construction of a mosque, Cain said, "Yes, they have the right to do that."
Controversy over those and other remarks led Cain to meet with five officials of the ADAMS Center -- ADAMS stands for All Dulles Area Muslim Society -- outside Washington. "In my own life as a black youth growing up in the segregated South, I understand their frustration with stereotypes," Cain said in a statement. "Those in attendance, like most Muslim Americans, are peaceful Muslims and patriotic Americans whose good will is often drowned out by the reprehensible actions of jihadists." Cain said that he stands by his "opposition to the interference of Sharia law into the American legal system."
The Muslim issue has proved a serious distraction for Cain, who is trying to regain the early momentum he gained after the first GOP debate in South Carolina last May. But even after Wednesday's meeting, the issue is unlikely to go away, in part because Cain will still be involved in it. "I look forward to continuing this very healthy dialogue," Cain said after the meeting. "The Imam has invited me back to speak to not only some of their youth, but also at one of their worship services," Cain said, referring to Imam Mohamed Magid, head of the ADAMS Center.