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NASHVILLE - Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey's recent suggestion that Islam may be a cult has a national Muslim group worried that his view represents part of a "disturbing trend."

Lt. Gov. Ramsey, R-Blountville, made the remarks during a Chattanooga stop on July 14, according to a video.

In response to one attendee's stated concerns that "we've got a threat that's invading our country from the Muslims," Lt. Gov. Ramsey noted a recent controversy in Murfreesboro over the proposed building of an Islamic Center and mosque.

He said while he believes in freedom of religion, "you cross the line when they start trying to bring Sharia law here into ... the United States. We're a, we live under our Constitution and they preferably live under our Constitution. It's scary if we get there."

Sharia is the sacred law of Islam.

"Now you can even argue whether that being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life, or cult, whatever you want to call it," the lieutenant governor said.

The video of his remarks has been making the rounds this week on liberal blogs such as Talking Points Memo.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said today the "problem" with Lt. Gov. Ramsey's remarks "is it seems to be part of a trend nationwide in which there are those who are seeking to delegitimize the faith of Islam so that Muslim civil and religious rights can somehow be restricted."

In a subsequent e-mail to Talking Points Memo, Mr. Ramsey stated that "my concern is that far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion. It's time for American Muslims who love this country to publicly renounce violent jihadism and to drum those who seek to do America harm out of their faith community."

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