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NYT: In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.

22 December 2011 New York Times 31 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

For Newt Gingrich, in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Shariah is a concern akin to terrorism.

In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.


WASHINGTON — Long before he announced his presidential run this year, Newt Gingrich had become the most prominent American politician to embrace an alarming premise: that Shariah, or Islamic law, poses a threat to the United States as grave as or graver than terrorism.

“I believe Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it,” Mr. Gingrich said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in July 2010 devoted to what he suggested were the hidden dangers of Islamic radicalism. “I think it’s that straightforward and that real.”

Mr. Gingrich was articulating a much-disputed thesis in vogue with some conservative thinkers but roundly rejected by many American Muslims, scholars of Islam and counterterrorism officials. The anti-Shariah theorists say that just as communism posed an ideological and moral threat to America separate from the menace of Soviet missiles, so today radical Islamists are working to impose Shariah in a “stealth jihad” that is no less dangerous than the violent jihad of Al Qaeda.

“Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence,” Mr. Gingrich said in the speech. “But in fact they’re both engaged in jihad, and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Shariah.”

Echoing some Republicans in Congress, Mr. Gingrich blasted the Obama administration’s policy of declining to label terrorism carried out in the name of militant Islam as “Islamic” or “jihadist.” Administration officials say such labels can imply religious justification for a distortion of doctrine that most Muslims abhor, thus smearing an entire faith.

But to Mr. Gingrich, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment, the administration’s language smacks of the willful blindness of an earlier era. “The left’s refusal to tell the truth about the Islamist threat is a natural parallel to the 70-year pattern of left-wing intellectuals refusing to tell the truth about communism and the Soviet Union,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Shariah (literally, “the path to the watering place”) is a central concept in Islam. It is God’s law, as derived from the Koran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, and has far wider application than secular law. It is popularly associated with its most extreme application in societies like Afghanistan under the Taliban, including chopping off a hand as punishment for thievery.

But it has always been subject to interpretation by religious authorities, so its application has varied over time and geography, said Bernard G. Weiss, professor emeritus at the University of Utah and an authority on Islamic law.

“In the hands of terrorists, Shariah can be developed into a highly threatening, militant notion,” Professor Weiss said. “In the hands of a contemporary Muslim thinker writing in the journal Religion and Law, Shariah becomes an essentially pacifist notion.”

The Arab Spring has set off a lively political and scholarly debate over the growing power of Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. But those are all overwhelmingly Muslim countries. The idea that Shariah poses a danger in the United States, where the census pegs Muslims as less than 1 percent of the population, strikes many scholars as quixotic.

Even within that 1 percent, most American Muslims have no enthusiasm for replacing federal and state law with Shariah, as some conservatives fear, let alone adopting such ancient prescriptions as stoning for adulterers, said Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington, who spent a year traveling the United States and interviewing Muslims for his 2010 book “Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.”

>> Continue reading: In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.


  1. It seems like the Sharia Law meme has faded into the background somewhat…are we about to see a resurgence?

  2. They compete with one another as to which can draw the best Muslim bogeyman. These types are Crusaders 2.0 <<– that's the correct term for them.

  3. This guys a fruitcake. He wins the nomination, im going to canada, not taking any chance with this guy. I love muslims and jews and christians and everyone else. To think that one is dangerous is just being ignorant.

  4. The same could be said of jewish halakha and canon law. He should know better but is too busy pandering to the GOP knownothings and bigots, which of course makes him one of them and thus totally disqualifies him (there are many other disqualifiers) for the presidency.

  5. Newt is one of the greatest threats to this nation, especially if he gets into the Presidency.

  6. I wish I could be sure that Americans are not stupid enough to elect this guy President.

  7. easy sound bite for these morons!!! It allows their minions to shake in fear & substantiate their hate!!!

  8. me too ^.

  9. Newt thinks of himself as a royal. A royal is a racist, a war monger and a thief. We have too many Royals that are promoting the “Us and Them” society. This race to the bottom is getting old.

  10. Funny, but I see Newt Gingrich as a mortal threat to the U.S.

  11. My fist is mortal threat to his face

  12. Besides, Newt’s decided he knows who the real enemies of religious freedom are:

  13. I am not a Newt supporter ,but where in the hell did yall get your bias opinions of Newt? I think he is better man than Nobama.

  14. Oh brother! Idiot! Has he ever checked out the religious right?????

  15. Can’t. Just can’t.

  16. All religious law is a graver danger then any form of terrorism to our life of freedom and liberty.

  17. Consider the source…

  18. Newt spins off crazy ideas like fireworks from a catherine wheel.

  19. Gingrich is a MORAL threat to America. The man has none

  20. @albert did you even read the article? Newt is delusional, focusing on the non-issues because he knows thats what the far right conservatives want to hear. He is using this kind of bs to cover up the fact that he has no idea how to address REAL problems in America.

  21. @Jose thanks for the articles! Very informative!

  22. I thought it said Grinch……

  23. Of course it does. There are two types of Islamaphobia, ignorant Islamaphobia and justified Islamaphobia. Islam is one of the biggest threats to the planet.

  24. OOH Newt is the mortal and moral threat to the USA all of Us! Who knows he has moved from several religions and marriages may be he is secretly practicing Islam he has had multiple wives!

  25. It may be interpreted as a pacifist notion, but it is still the notion that everyone including non muslims should live under it.

    Newt is correct that leftists were always soft for communism and some still are. I remember how floored some of my acquaintances were when it collapsed.

    The evil is utopian theocracy of any kind, any religion.

    First let the muslims create some sensible countries and quit drooling over the glorious past and the perfections of sharia that never were or shall be.

    Get rid of that creepy Dalia Mogahed, sharia enthusiast.

    And Akyol – just wait til sharia lands on him. The people in favor of it never consider how it might clobber them, a trait they share with communist sympathizers. The reds would have squashed them in short order. Utopian systems hate thinkers and talkers.

  26. Fruitcake Gingrich

  27. “Barbaric textbooks handed out in Saudi Arabian schools teach children how to cut off a thief’s hands and feet under Sharia law, it has emerged. The books were published and handed out to 9th and 10th-graders despite Saudi Arabia’s promises to clean up textbooks in the kingdom.The shocking books, paid for and printed by the Saudi government, also tell teenagers that Jews need to be exterminated and homosexuals should be ‘put to death’.”” The textbooks were printed for the 2010-2011 academic year…”

    Read more:

    “But it (Sharia) has always been subject to interpretation by religious authorities, so its application has varied over time and geography, said Bernard G. Weiss…”. Sounds quite flexible, much like sudden jihadists can be, e.g., Nidal Hassan at Ft. Hood.

  28. Newt is a pawn of the government, they are using him to manipulate the american people to vote their chosen candidate into choosing the lesser of two evils you vote their chosen in to office… that way it seems as though it was america’s choice…. i say..give us candidates who actually care about america and the world

  29. In Newt Gingrich I see a mortal threat to the U.S.

  30. The electoral college controls the outcome.

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