Is Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez saying whatever she needs to to gain Republican votes? That’s one of the hefty accusations being made against her following a rather Islamophobic statement made by the representative.
Buzzfeed reports that during a Wednesday interview with Larry King on PoliticKING With Larry King, the discussion turned to Islam and how many Muslims wish to establish a global “caliphate by any means necessary.”
“We know that there is a small group [of Islamic extremists], and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20%”
As New York magazine writes that means 80 to 320 million people worldwide would be pro-Caliphate and pro-terrorism. It’s a very generous estimate that suggest that there is a huge population of Muslims around the world who support violent systems of oppression in order to make the world a single Islam-based state.
However, where is the proof for such a claim?
— POLITICO (@politico) December 11, 2015
After making her controversial remarks, Sanchez — who’s running for the open Senate seat in California — cited “people that she talks to.” Others who support the claims by the Democratic congresswoman point to a recent Pew survey. What’s interesting is that the survey itself demonstrates that the vast majority of Muslims around the world actually hate ISIS (DAESH) and the terrorist state’s methods.
The largest margin out outright support came from Nigeria at 14 percent. Meanwhile, Pakistan was the most ambiguous towards the Islamic State, with 62 percent of those polled holding neither a positive nor negative image of the group. In Lebanon, 100 percent of those polled outright oppose ISIS and its brutal methods.
Even though the numbers vary from Islamic nation to Islamic nation in this poll, it would still be a stretch to consider the survey as validating her general estimate. This poll merely asks what the favorability/unfavorability of ISIS is. There are other questions that would have to be asked of Muslims to verify the claims by Sanchez.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) December 11, 2015
Throwing out a rough estimate of how many Muslims support a caliphate and using extreme measures (terrorism) to make it happen with no concrete evidence is dangerous. The Paris attacks and San Bernardino, California, shooting combined with flippant anti-Muslim rhetoric from public figures has led to a notable increase in anti-Islamic sentiment and harassment in America.
Some fear that by Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez making this claim, she’s only adding fuel to the fire. One commenter responding to the Sacramento Bee coverage of the controversy said the following.
“Shame on you, Loretta…you should know better than to say things like this.”
It’s noted that those supporting the statements by Sanchez tend to be Republicans or conservative, with anti-Islam leanings.
“I so agree! She has nothing to apologize for!! All the people in this country regardless of race or religion need to grow up & quit expecting apologies & payoffs for every little thing they find insulting!”
Rep. Loretta Sanchez ultimately found herself strongly pressured to take back her claim that upward of 20 percent of Muslims support the caliphate and terrorism. Even if the remarks raised her stock among conservative, anti-Islam voters, the Islamophobic nature of her unsubstantiated claims didn’t sit well with Democrats.
After reporting her original statements, Buzzfeed later posted an update where Sanchez sought to clarify her stance.
” In a statement, Sanchez said, ‘I strongly support the Muslim community in America and believe that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support terrorism or ISIS.’
This could be taken as an extremely ambiguous remark in that it doesn’t necessarily disqualify her previous statement that 5 to 20 percent of Muslims support Islam extremist. Even if the amount of Muslims who did so made up 20 percent, that would mean the opposing population represented 80 percent. 80 percent of a group could be deemed the “overwhelming majority.”
Do you think Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez was right to make her claim or does she owe the American Muslim community a more specific apology? Share your thoughts below!
[AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta]