Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday that U.S. citizens “of a Muslim background” should be tested to see if they believe in Sharia law.
“And if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported,” he added, speaking on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
Gingrich was reacting to the terror attack in Nice, France, that left more than 80 dead, including at least two Americans. Many details were still unclear as of Friday morning, but officials said identification papers found with the attacker belonged to a Frenchman of Tunisian descent.
His strident remarks echoed those of Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, who last year reacted to a pair of terror attacks by calling for the U.S. to bar Muslims from entering the country. Gingrich was on Trump’s VP shortlist, though the Manhattan developer decided on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a source told ABC News. Trump postponed the Friday announcement of his pick in the aftermath of the massacre in Nice.
Gingrich said the U.S. should follow a “two-strike” approach to American citizens with terrorist sympathies. As an example of a “strike,” he cited Orlando gunman Omar Mateen’s reported celebration of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was in school. Mateen, a U.S. citizen, killed almost 50 people last month in a Florida nightclub.
“I think you either kick them out of the country — People tell me, ‘We can’t do that to American citizens.’ We are in a war. We better rethink the rules, or we’re going to lose the war,” Gingrich told Fox host Sean Hannity.
Gingrich appeared to be defining Sharia, or Islamic law, by its strictest interpretation, such as that embraced by the Islamic State terror group in parts of Syria and Iraq. Gingrich pointed to Islamist groups burning women and beheading captives.
The ex-House speaker further called for the U.S. government to aggressively monitor mosques and to “be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are.”
“Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or al-Qaida or terrorist groups, that should be a felony. And they should go to jail,” he said.
“Everybody who watches this video: This is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary and to tell us the truth. And that starts with President Obama,” he soon added.
Gingrich, a 2012 presidential candidate, has been issuing dire warnings for years about Sharia. He also said Thursday that the U.S. should embrace “modern Muslims who have given up Sharia.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement condemning both Gingrich’s comments and the attack in Nice.
“When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggests that American Muslims be subjected to an Inquisition-style religious test and then expelled from their homes and nation, he plays into the hands of terror recruiters and betrays the American values he purports to uphold,” said CAIR’s national executive director, Nihad Awad.