Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain met with a Virginia-based Muslim group Wednesday and apologized for his recent controversial comments about the faith, including the suggestion that local governments could bar Muslims from building a place of worship.
"While I stand by my opposition to the interference of shariah law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends," Cain said in a statement. "I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it. Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully."
Cain held a roundtable discussion with leaders from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, Virginia, a community group that represents Muslims in the region. The center's imam, Mohamed Magid, their youth director Joshua Salaam, trustee member Robert Marro and scholar Humera Khan all met with Cain.
Cain compared the treatment to American Muslims to plight of southern blacks before the Civil Rights era, which Cain experienced during his childhood.
"In my own life as a black youth growing up in the segregated South, I understand their frustration with stereotypes," Cain said. "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."
Marro said that Cain's apology appeared to be "genuine" and that the candidate had received a lot of "misinformation" about Islam, according to the Talking Points Memo's Evan McMorris-Santoro, who spoke to witnesses at the meeting.
Cain, a minister, said that the group has invited him back to speak to the group's youth group and during a worship service.