Rep. Steve King, whose history of incendiary and racially insensitive comments has led to calls for his resignation from Congress, appeared to make light of China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims by suggesting force-feeding them pork – a violation of their religious beliefs – was a good idea.
The Iowa Republican on Tuesday was criticizing China for detaining millions of Uyghur Muslims when he made the comments.
“They take out all of their religious artifacts out and then they want them to put on Chinese clothing and eat Chinese diet, which includes trying to force the Muslims to eat pork,” King said at a town hall Tuesday morning, according to video of the event posted to Facebook.
“That’s actually the only part of that that I agree with, is everybody ought to eat pork,” he added.
“If you have a shortage of bacon, you can’t be happy,” he said, with a small laugh.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Republican House members to condemn King for his comments.
“Republican leaders need to make clear once and for all that Islamophobia will not be tolerated in their ranks,” CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw said in a statement. “If King had joked about any other religious minority in concentration camps suffering the same humiliation he would have been kicked out of the Republican Party.”
King’s office didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The US has accused Beijing of holding Uyghur Muslims in “concentration camps” in the Xinjiang region in northwestern China. Allegations of torture inside the camps are rampant, including in accounts given to CNN by former detainees describing forced education under the threat of violence.
Beijing has denied allegations of torture or political indoctrination, claiming that the camps are “vocational training centers” designed to fight terrorism and combat Islamic extremism.
King, who is running for reelection, is a controversial and polarizing figure on Capitol Hill, whose comments about race and immigration have sparked outrage and condemnation.
He drew bipartisan backlash earlier this month for questioning whether there would be any population left on Earth if not for rape and incest. The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, wrote in a tweet that those remarks were “appalling and bizarre” and called on him to resign.
He was stripped of his committee assignments in January by House Republicans, after he appeared to lament in a New York Times interview that the term “white supremacist” was considered offensive.
Last year, King told Breitbart Radio he didn’t want Somali Muslims working in his home district’s meat-packing plants to handle pork because they wouldn’t eat it themselves and believed consumers will go “to hell for eating pork chops.”
CNN’s Haley Byrd, Clare Foran, Ben Westcott and Jo Shelley contributed to this report.