Phillip Parrish, a Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota, told a Muslim community leader, “Islam is ultimately not a faith,” and refused to meet with her if she was a “practicing Islamist."
Regina Mustafa, founder of the Minnesota-based Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam, reached out to Parrish after learning he attended a talk by Usama Dakdok called “Revealing the Truth about ISIS.” Dakdok is one of a number of anti-Muslim speakers who have created a cottage industry touring the country to malign Islam as an inherently violent religion. In his Minnesota presentation, Dakdok said ISIS was the “true representation of Islam.”
Mustafa sent Parrish an email, offering to meet with him face-to-face. “Since you have attended this talk about my faith,” she wrote, “I figured you would also like to hear from a person who actually practices Islam.”
In Parrish’s reply, he condemned Islam as fundamentally incompatible with U.S. law.
First, he claimed to have, “a very unusual in-depth level of training, experience, and understanding regarding multiple faiths and the practice of Islam,” which he has suggested in public interviews is related to his time in the U.S. Naval Reserve working in intelligence.
He continued, “I separate Islam from the word faith because faith takes belief and Islam requires only submission. I will not participate in any faith dialog because Islam is ultimately not a faith.”
Parrish demanded Mustafa “publicly denounce Sharia and swear to adhere to, protect, comply with, accept, and defend the United States Constitution.” He suggested that as a practicing Muslim — or as he put it, “practicing Islamist” — she would be unable to do so. He also wrote, “Islam, Sharia, and the Quran are the antithesis of the U.S. Constitution.”
Parrish’s public platform also vilifies Muslims and embraces anti-Muslim conspiracies. His campaign website suggests a fictitious, taxpayer-funded scheme to finance and promote terrorism, reading, “Minnesotans will no longer fund jihadists through the exploitation of social programs. We will no longer train ill-intended people for nefarious and terrorist activities.”
In a public appearance on Minnesota podcast “Up and at ‘Em” last November, Parrish said, “In one who practices Islam, there is no separation of civilian law from a theocracy.” He told the hosts that Islam in America represents “a violent, dishonest abusive culture that is getting a pass.”
On Twitter, Parrish has retweeted falsehoods about Muslims, one alleging Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and another claiming that Saudi Arabian terrorists have taken over a Boston mosque.
He also uses social media to rail against “pundits, globalists, political elite, One World Order, socialist, Marxist nutcases,” and decry what he calls “information warfare” coming from the press.
Parrish was pressed for time when reached for comment, but said he objected to Mustafa sharing the emails, which he called a “private conversation.” He also said that conversations with the press about the content of the emails were “insulting,” and amounted to “emotional manipulation.”
He stood by his claim that sharia law is being practiced with impunity in Minnesota, and further suggested that Muslims are being subjected to harsh, extralegal punishments under theocratic rule.
“It’s very clear based on research,” he said. “Absolutely.” He said information supporting this claim was public, and available on government websites run by the state of Minnesota. He did not share those reports by press time, and a search of state statutes yielded no results.
Parrish also said he bases his objections on law, and not on religion, saying, “This whole thing is about behaviors.”