Mark Harris, a Republican congressional nominee who has frequently appeared in right-wing media, signed a false and bigoted statement claiming that “all terror groups … have 100% Muslim membership” and “terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.”
Harris is the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s 9th District. As a pastor, he has worked with the anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council and has appeared in its media productions.
Harris has a long history of misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ comments. Media Matters previously documented that he favorably remembered when “homosexuality was once criminalized” and endorsed a Family Research Council pamphlet claiming that sexual orientation can sometimes be changed, including through the harmful practice of conversion therapy.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend an August 31 fundraiser supporting Harris and incumbent Republican Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina's 13th District.
In his career, Harris has also supported bigotry against Muslims. In early 2016, Harris signed an anti-Muslim statement titled “Understanding Islam” that was organized by Dave Kistler, who heads the North Carolina Pastors’ Network. (In 2017, that group paid for a billboard that said, “Why support President Trump's immigration ban? 19 Muslim immigrants killed 2977 Americans. September 11, 2001.”) The Harris-signed statement reportedly ran as an advertisement in the Hickory Daily Record (NC) and purported to address “inaccuracies” regarding the media’s portrayal of Islam. Among its claims was the blatantly false assertion that “all terror groups … have 100% Muslim membership. Tragically, these terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.” From the statement:
Also, frequently and erroneously stated is the claim that most acts of terror are committed by non-Muslims. The overwhelming number of recent terror attacks, in which the perpetrators all asserted Islam as their ideology, should thoroughly disprove those claims. All terror groups – Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Ansar al Islam, Ansar al Sharia, Al Shabaab, the Mujahedeen, Boko Haram and ISIS – have one thing in common. They all have 100% Muslim membership. Tragically, these terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.
The statement additionally claimed that Islam is a fundamentally violent religion:
Regrettably, most Americans know nothing substantive about Islam. Hence, they read/listen to the seemingly peaceful remarks of Islam’s professed followers and accept them at face value, not knowing that Islam’s 1400 years of advancement has always been via the sword. Seldom is reference made to the first nine chapters (surahs) of the Koran, in which the most overt statements about treatment of infidels, or unbelievers (the kufar), are made.
The statement was also signed by numerous other North Carolina pastors and Act for America, an anti-Muslim group with a long history of bigotry.