For 24 hours, the leading Libertarian Party presidential candidate seemed like he was to the right of Donald Trump when it comes to Muslims.
In a Wednesday interview with Reason, the former governor of New Mexico said that sharia law is one of his greatest concerns, and that he would ban the Muslim head garb.
“Under sharia law, women are not afforded the same rights as men,” Johnson argued, adding that a burka hides whether a woman has been beaten. “Honor killings are allowed for under sharia law and so is deceiving non-Muslims,” he added.
On Thursday afternoon, Johnson recanted.
Admitting that his decidedly un-libertarian proposal rankled the feathers of many libertarians (and non-libertarians), Johnson told The Daily Beast: “I would not sign that legislation because I think that it would end up being government intrusion on you or I.”
Johnson—the 2012 Libertarian nominee who garnered 1 million votes—said that, following the outrage, he discovered how France and Belgium already have such burka bans, and critics of the policy allege it results in police overreach.
If lawmakers replicated the bans stateside, Johnson worried, that could give the government free rein to infringe on individuals’ ability to wear face-covering garments that aren’t necessarily religious in nature.
“I still have the concern with sharia law, and I still have the concern that a woman wearing a full-faced burka might, in fact, be someone who is subject to beatings,” he noted, “but I would not sign that law.”
“I gave Reason the honest kneejerk response and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong,” he added.
“My mistake,” Johnson said. “But I still have concerns about sharia.”