Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg compared Christianity to radical Islam on Friday during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt.
Buttigieg made the remarks when Hewitt asked him which form of Islamic extremism he thought posed the greatest overall threat.
"Do you find Iranians’ variant of Shia extremism to be more dangerous to the world than the Sunni variant that we see in the Taliban and perhaps in Hamas and some of the more radical elements of Wahhabism?" Hewitt asked.
"Well, you know, not unlike Christianity when it is motivating someone to do something extreme," Buttigieg responded. "It can have a thousand different flavors."
The United States government lists Iran as the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism. Iran's influence in spreading terrorism and drug trafficking around the world was enabled by former President Barack Obama, who sabotaged a massive investigation into the Iranian-backed Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah, according to Politico.
Christopher M. Blanchard, Analyst for the Middle Eastern Affairs of the Congressional Research Service, wrote the following about Wahhabism in a 2008 report for Congress:
- It is widely acknowledged that the Saudi government, as well as wealthy Saudi individuals, have supported the spread of the Wahhabist ideas in several Muslim countries and in the United States and Europe. Some have argued that this proselyting has promoted terrorism and has spawned Islamic militancy throughout the world. Saudi funding of mosques, madrasas, and charities, some of which have been linked to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, has raised concern that Wahhabi Islam has been used by militants who tailor this ideology to suit their political goals and who rely on Saudi donations to support their aspirations.
- Some reports suggest that teachings within Saudi domestic schools may foster intolerance of other religions and cultures. A 2002 study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) indicates that “some Saudi textbooks taught Islamic tolerance while others viciously condemned Jews and Christians...[and] use rhetoric that was little more than hate literature.” Others also have argued that the global spread of Wahhabist teachings threatens the existence of more moderate Islamic beliefs and practices in other parts of the world, including the United States. A 2005 report from Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom cites examples of what its authors calls “hate ideology” taken from a number of Saudi government publications that have been distributed in U.S. mosques and Islamic centers. Recent attention to Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia has focused on harsh sectarian rhetoric accusing Shiite Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere of religious apostasy and political disloyalty worthy of punishment. An October 2006 petition signed by 38 prominent Saudi religious figures called on Sunnis everywhere to oppose a joint “crusader [U.S.], Safavid [Iranian] and Rafidi [derogatory term for Shiite] scheme” to target Iraq’s Sunni Arab population.
- The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission”) claims that “Islamist terrorism” finds inspiration in “a long tradition of extreme intolerance” that flows “through the founders of Wahhabism,” the Muslim Brotherhood, and prominent Salafi thinkers. The report further details the education and activities of some 9/11 hijackers in the Al Qassim province of Saudi Arabia, which the report describes as “the very heart of the strict Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia.”
This is also not the first time that Buttigieg has attacked the Christian faith as many have accused him of being a religious bigot toward traditional-minded Christians — which represents the majority of Christians — which he has shown in his attacks on Vice President Mike Pence.
Partial transcript from Hewitt's interview with Buttigieg:
Hewitt: Do you find Iranians’ variant of Shia extremism to be more dangerous to the world than the Sunni variant that we see in the Taliban and perhaps in Hamas and some of the more radical elements of Wahhabism?
Buttigieg: Well, you know, not unlike Christianity when it is motivating someone to do something extreme. It can have a thousand different flavors. The real question is what’s going on with the regime, the government, that’s given the power and the apparatus of the state and intelligence service and a military, and what do they do with their ideology? Iran, I think, is a little more complex than the Saudi picture, because I think there’s, frankly, a less unified regime, not that the Saudi regime is homogenous, either. But you look at Iran and the dynamic that’s gone over the years between those who have the most fidelity to the revolution, and those who really want to see change, the moderates. The problem, of course, is that whenever moderates come to power in Iran, the U.S. has a way of undermining them. I mean, imagine if you’re an Iranian politician who put all your eggs in the basket of saying let’s make a deal with the Americans. We really can trust them, and it’ll make everybody better off. And of course, now you’re going to have a lot of egg on your face. And so the hardliners keep getting empowered with each turn of the wheel. The setup for conflict between the Saudis and the Iranians is one where I guess we feel like we have a side, because we’re more aligned with the Saudis. But in some ways, nothing good can come of one side totally dominating and winning that particular conflict. And of course, the Israelis in particular are worried about…