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ERIK SCHELZIG

Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE - Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey is being criticized by a national Muslim rights group for positing that Islam may be more of a cult than a religion.

At an event in Chattanooga earlier this month, Ramsey said: "You could even argue whether that being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult or whatever you want to call it?"

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Ramsey's comments are a sign of "a disturbing trend in our nation in which it is suggested that American Muslims should have fewer or more restricted constitutional rights than citizens of other faiths."

Ramsey in response issued a statement saying he's concerned that "far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion."

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