General explains why he withdrew from West Point speech

“You know this whole issue became such a distraction for the Army leadership, at a time when the Army needs to be focused on winning the war as well as taking care of troops and their families plus absorbing some significant cuts in the military budget and personnel,” Boykin said. “I decided to remove this as a distracter for the Army leadership so I backed out of it and I think it was the right decision.”

After Boykin was named as a speaker at the breakfast, groups including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the liberal veterans advocacy group wrote to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno asking for Boykin’s removal.

They cited Boykin’s comments in 2003, when he compared the War on Terror to a religious struggle against Satan, as well as comments that there should be no mosques built in the U.S.

Boykin said on Fox News that he misspoke about “no mosques,” and that he was referring to the mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

He said that he makes a distinction between Muslims in America who do not support Sharia Law and those who do, and said he’s only against Muslims truing to bring Sharia Law to the U.S.

“I do stand in opposition to those who want to implement Sharia and essentially attack the constitution of the United States,” Boykin said. “Those Muslims in America’s Army that stand with the Constitution, I support them, and I think we all have to.”

Boykin said he was not planning to discuss Islam in his West Point speech, but rather the role that faith plays in leadership.