BUENA PARK, Calif. (AP) — A California congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate sought Monday to clarify comments she made about Muslims that were condemned by advocacy groups and members of her own party.
Democrat Loretta Sanchez suggested in an interview with Larry King last week that as many as two of 10 Muslims want to establish a strict Islamic state in any way possible.
While estimates vary on that number, "they are certainly ... willing to go to extremes. They are willing to use and they do use terrorism," she said on "PoliticKING with Larry King."
Speaking in Buena Park on Monday, Sanchez said estimates show up to 20 percent of Muslims worldwide support or are sympathetic to Islamic State or other radical groups.
She said she didn't say up to 20 percent of Muslims are personally willing to engage in extremist acts and said her estimates came from mainstream academic and research sources.
"I know it to be a fact that U.S. Muslims are significantly less supportive or sympathetic to terrorism," she added.
Sanchez said she hoped to start a conversation to inform policy decisions to stop extremism. "I've never attacked Muslims," she said.
Last week, the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American Islamic-Relations called Sanchez's statements harmful and perplexing. The Arab American Caucus of California Democratic Party said her remarks were disturbing and inaccurate.
The episode marked another political stumble for Sanchez, who earlier this year apologized after a videotape surfaced showing her making a whooping cry in reference to Native Americans that brought her a cascade of reprimands from fellow Democrats. She later apologized.