Loretta Sanchez

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), shown in November, is facing criticism over a comment she made about the percentage of Muslims who support a caliphate. (Tomas Ovalle)

Phil Willon
December 11, 2015

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is trying to beat back criticism over a comment she made about the percentage of Muslims who support a caliphate — the establishment of a strict Islamic state — to defend and advance their religious ideology.

Sanchez, a Democrat from Santa Ana who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Armed Services Committee, made the comments on “PoliticKING with Larry King,” this week in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino that killed 14.

“We know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20%, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms — our way of life,” Sanchez said during the interview. “They are willing to use, and they do use, terrorism, and it is in the name of a very wrong way of looking at Islam.”

Sanchez currently is running to succeed the retiring Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. On Friday the liberal activist group Courage Campaign called on her to drop out of the race, and she also faced criticism by an immigrants rights group and the Council on Islamic-American Relations.

“At a time when bigoted, Islamophobic rhetoric is spurring troubling incidents of hate across the country — including in Orange County — Representative Loretta Sanchez’ wildly off-the-mark claims are irresponsible and dangerous,” Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center in Oakland, said in statement. “We expect California’s representatives to uphold our values of inclusion and diversity, not trample them. We call upon Rep. Sanchez to immediately apologize.”

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