Cain stood behind his past remarks about Islam and sharia law, but he apologized to the Muslims he may have offended. In a recent interview, Cain said that Americans should be allowed to ban mosques from their communities if they so choose.
"While I stand by my opposition to the interference of sharia law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends," he said in the statement. "I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it."
At ADAMS, Cain met with Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director of the center, as well as several other top officials. In the statement, Cain said he found common ground with the Muslims he met with Wednesday from his own past.
"As I expected, we discovered we have much more in common in our values and virtues," Cain said. "In my own life as a black youth growing up in the segregated South, I understand their frustration with stereotypes. Those in attendance, like most Muslim Americans, are peaceful Muslims and patriotic Americans whose good will is often drowned out by the reprehensible actions of jihadists."
In the past, Cain has been less willing to take his own experiences and connect them with the lives of Muslims in modern America. In the Fox News Sunday interview July 17 where he said American communities have the right to keep out mosques if they wish, Cain rejected a direct comparison with discrimination from the Civil Rights era. Show host Chris Wallace asked Cain about the mosque comment as well as Cain's past promise to use special precautions to ensure Muslim applicants for his administration are not not "terrorists." Wallace said that sounded like religious discrimination to some.
From the transcript:
WALLACE (Host): As someone who I'm sure who faced prejudice growing up, in the '50s, '60s, how do you respond to those who say you are doing the same thing?
CAIN: I tell them that that's absolutely not true, because it is absolutely totally different. I grew up, like you said, in the '50s and the '60s. I grew up before civilian rights movement, during the civil rights movement and after the civil rights movement.
I went in to corporate America when the openness to putting blacks and minorities and corporation and I was able to move up the corporate ladder. We had some laws that were restricting people because of their color and because of their color only. That's what that situation was.
WALLACE: But aren't you willing to restrict people because of their religion?
CAIN: I'm willing to take a harder look at people that might be terrorists. That's what I'm saying. Look, I know that that there's a peaceful group of Muslims in this country. God bless them and they are tree to worship. I have no problem with that.
In the statement, Cain said he "enjoyed heartfelt fellowship and thoughtful dialogue" with the Muslims he met with Wednesday. They discussed "how patriotic Americans of all faiths can work together to restore the American Dream."
The meeting appeared to go well, from Cain's telling.
"The relationship we established was so positive that the Imam has invited me back to speak to not only some of their youth, but also at one of their worship services," he said.