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Newt Gingrich Already Is Starting to Walk Away from His Proposed ‘Sharia Ban’

July 15, 2016, 3:06 PM UTC
Conservative Activists And Leaders Attend The Iowa Freedom Summit
Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, speaks during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The talent show that is a presidential campaign began in earnest Saturday as more than 1,200 Republican activists, who probably will vote in Iowa's caucuses, packed into a historic Des Moines theater to see and hear from a parade of their party's prospective entries. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker — Bloomberg via Getty Images

In the aftermath of last night’s terrorist attack in Nice, France, Newt Gingrich told Fox News that Muslims in America should be “tested” to see if they believe in Sharia law, and deported if they fail that test.

“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,” said Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House who was on Trump’s short list of candidates considered to be Donald Trump’s vice president. “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.”

Critics immediately pounced, pointing out that many Muslim-Americans are citizens and have been born in the United States. Also, while Gingrich and some other politicians invoke “sharia law” as short hand for “radical Islamic terrorism,” it is, in fact, a complicated set of religious beliefs that includes rules about everything from diet to banking, and there are several schools of thought on sharia law.

Gingrich started to walk back his comments Friday morning, saying on Twitter that the media distorted his views.

Gingrich lost out on the vice presidential nomination to Indiana Governor Mike Pence. He still stands to have a role in a Trump administration.