Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Blog

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, officially declared his candidacy for president today. Gingrich, a former professor of history, stepped out of academia and into the political arena when he was first elected to the House in 1978. Gingrich became the face of the Republican Party in 1994 as Speaker of the House and a formidable opponent to the Clinton administration. In 1999, Gingrich left his seat in Congress and established a business, published several books, and was a frequent political commentator for Fox News.

Gingrich’s decision to re-enter politics by becoming a Republican presidential candidate for 2012 may not serve the Arab American and American Muslim community well.  Gingrich has been a leading voice in establishing a political discourse that has isolated and distorted the image of Arab Americans and American Muslims. For instance, during the debate surrounding the proposed construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero, Gingrich claimed that if the project was permitted to go forth in its current location that it “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.”  Furthermore, Gingrich claimed that the intentions of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, which organized the construction of the Islamic center, was “revealed by the name initially proposed for the Ground Zero mosque—“Cordoba House”—which is named for a city in Spain where a conquering Muslim army replaced a church with a mosque. This name is a very direct historical indication that the Ground Zero mosque is all about conquest and thus an assertion of Islamist triumphalism which we should not tolerate.

Gingrich’s fear of ‘Islamist triumphalism’ has continued in the ongoing, baseless campaign against Sharia law and its influence in American jurisprudence. Gingrich has urged for a “federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States” as “the law will let judges know that no judge will remain in office that tried to use Sharia law.” Gingrich’s persistence on the issues stated serves to have grim implications for the Arab American and American Muslim communities as Newt Gingrich transforms from a political pundit to a presidential contender. 

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