POLITICS

Lindsey Graham Defends Peaceful Muslims Amid GOP Islamophobia

"Leave the faith alone, go after the radicals that kill us all."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) acted as the responsible adult at Tuesday's Republican presidential debate by standing up for peaceful Muslims after several of his fellow rivals for the GOP nomination fearmongered about Islam and called for government surveillance of mosques.

Speaking at the undercard debate, which preceded the main event, Graham apologized to people of Muslim faith worldwide for Donald Trump and his controversial proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the United States. 

“I am sorry, he does not represent us," Graham said at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, name-checking allies such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia who would be adversely affected by the ban.

"What he said about banning Muslims, has made us all less safe," he added. "ISIL would be dancing in the streets, they just don’t believe in dancing."

Despite his objection to Trump, however, Graham said he would ultimately support the businessman if he becomes the nominee.

"The bottom line -- if it's Trump, so be it," he said. "That's who I'll support."

Later in the debate, Graham again laid into his opponents -- former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Gov. George Patakai -- for engaging in Islamophobia.

"To the 3,500 Muslims serving in the Armed forces: Thank you for your service. You are not the enemy. Your religion is not the enemy," he said.

Huckabee said if Islam were truly a peaceful religion, Muslims would have no problem "begging us to come listen to their sermons" and surveil mosques.

“If they’re not saying anything bad, what’s the big deal?” he asked.

Graham, however, strongly objected, invoking former President George W. Bush, who defended Islam and Muslims in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"Leave the faith alone, go after the radicals that kill us all," he said.

See the latest updates on the debate here.

 

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