ben carson muslims
U.S. Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson spoke during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina, Sept. 18, 2015. Reuters/Chris Keane

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has called the incendiary comments he made about Muslims over the weekend “irrelevant” because there wasn’t a Muslim candidate in the 2016 race. But his comments – that the U.S. should not elect a Muslim commander-in-chief – were relevant enough for Muslim activists to demand the retired neurosurgeon and devout Christian suspend his campaign Monday.

Carson, who trailed front-runner Donald Trump and was in second place among 15 GOP candidates, stood by his view that Muslims should not be U.S. presidents, the Hill reported. The next president should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Quran,” Carson said during an interview after his original remarks to Sunday’s “Meet The Press” on NBC.

“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” Carson told the Hill. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

The only way a Muslim could be president is if that person “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that” while running for office, Carson added.

He further explained his views to the Hill:

“We are a different kind of nation. Part of why we rose so quickly is because we wouldn’t allow our values or principles to be supplanted because we were going to be politically correct… part of the problem today is that we’re so busy trying to be politically correct, that we lose all perspective.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, was expected Monday to officially demand Carson’s withdrawal from the presidential race over the remarks. “Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which clearly states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office,'” Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director, said in a statement released Sunday.

The firestorm around Carson’s comments came days after Trump did not correct a questioner at a campaign rally who declared last week that President Barack Obama is a Muslim and is not American. Carson did not criticize Trump but told the Hill that he “would not have accepted the premise of a question like that.”

Ben Carson Presidential Candidate Profile | InsideGov