The Cable

Newt Gingrich Wants to Deport Muslims Who Believe in Sharia. Seriously.

The former House speaker wants to test American Muslims.

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Newt Gingrich isn’t going to be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s pick for vice president. But that isn’t keeping him silent or from courting controversy as the 2016 presidential campaign continues.

Speaking Thursday night on Fox News, after an apparent terrorist attack in Nice, France, left at least 84 people dead, Gingrich called for Muslims in the United States to be tested on their beliefs and then potentially deported.

“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 sharia, they should be deported,” Gingrich said. “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up sharia — glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”

Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, is suggesting a move far beyond the views of Trump. The billionaire businessman wants to keep foreign Muslims from entering the United States and close down mosques suspected of preaching extremist rhetoric. Gingrich is suggesting Muslims already in the United States be submitted to some kind of test to determine whether they believe sharia, or Islamic law.

How this would be done is anyone’s guess, and courts would almost certainly rule that applying religious tests to American citizens who practice Islam is illegal. Gingrich also said U.S. intelligence agencies should more closely scrutinize mosques and internet chatter, echoing some of Trump’s long-standing talking points.

“I mean, if you’re not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke,” Gingrich said.

It’s not yet known whether the attack in Nice was carried out by an operative dispatched by a terrorist group or someone inspired by its theology; no organization has taken credit so far. What is known is that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel intentionally drove a tractor-trailer into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day. Bouhlel was born in Tunisia but lived in Nice and had a criminal history. He was handed a six-month suspended sentence in January over a weapons charge. Despite his history with police, he was on no French watch list for terrorism or radicalization.

Gingrich’s comments come as a new poll shows some Americans hold a dim view of Muslims. According to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of more than 7,000 Americans, 37 percent of American adults have a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of Islam. The breakdown between those backing Trump and his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, is stark; 58 percent of Trump supporters view Muslims unfavorably, compared with 24 percent of Clinton supporters.

Photo credit: ALEX WONG/Getty Images

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