LOS ANGELES – A California congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate was sharply criticized Friday after suggesting that as many as two of 10 Muslims would engage in terrorism to establish a strict Islamic state.
In response, Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez issued a statement saying the estimate did not reflect her views on the Muslim community in America, and most Muslims around the world are committed to peace.
"I believe that Muslim Americans are fully committed to the security and prosperity of our country," the statement said. "I stand with them as my fellow Americans. They are law-abiding citizens who love our country."
The episode marked another political misstep for Sanchez, who earlier this year apologized after a videotape surfaced showing her making a whooping cry in reference to Native Americans that brought her a cascade of reprimands from fellow Democrats.
In an interview with "PoliticKING with Larry King," Sanchez said between 5 percent and 20 percent of Muslims want a strict Islamic state — or caliphate — and would use terrorism to impose their views.
They "desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms, our way of life," she told King. "They are willing to use and they do use terrorism, and it is in the name of a very wrong way of looking at Islam."
The Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American Islamic-Relations called Sanchez's statement harmful and perplexing. "Using inaccurate polls that reinforce false stereotypes about the Muslim community, at a time when right-wing bigots are calling for fascist measures against Muslims, is inexcusable," spokesman Haroon Manjlai said.
In her statement, Sanchez, an Orange County resident who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said she was referring to estimates based on limited research, and other data support far lower estimates.
Sanchez is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Barbara Boxer.