Cruz urges patrols in Muslim areas after Brussels attacks

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Tuesday that surveillance in Muslim neighborhoods in the US must be intensified following the deadly bombings at Brussels.

Echoing rival Donald Trump, Cruz said the US should stop the flow of refugees from countries where the Islamic State group has a significant presence. The Islamic State took credit for the attacks at the Brussels airport and a subway station that killed dozens Tuesday and wounded many more.

“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” the Texas senator said in a statement.

Speaking later in the day in New York, Cruz praised the city’s police department’s former program of conducting surveillance in Muslim neighborhoods, called for its reinstatement and said it could be a model for police departments nationwide.

“New Yorkers want a safe and secure America,” Cruz said. “New Yorkers saw first-hand the tragic consequences of radical Islamic terrorism.”

A Los Angeles County Sheriffs deputy patrols Union Station train hub as security is heightened in reaction to bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium this morning on March 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP)

A Los Angeles County Sheriffs deputy patrols Union Station train hub as security is heightened in reaction to bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium this morning on March 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP)

After the 9/11 attacks, the New York Police Department used its intelligence division to cultivate informants and conduct surveillance in Muslim communities. In a series of articles, The Associated Press revealed the intelligence division had infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds. The program was disbanded amid complaints of religious and racial profiling.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, condemned Cruz’s call for surveillance, saying it sends “an alarming message to American-Muslims who increasingly fear for their future in this nation and to all Americans who value the Constitution and religious liberties.”

The Anti-Defamation League also denounced Cruz’s remarks. The organization said “demonizing all Muslims is a misguided and counterproductive response to the terrorist threat posed by those motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam.”

“It is an irrational approach that harkens back to the fear and bigotry that led to a dark and tragic chapter in American history – the relocation of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps during the Second World War simply because of their ethnicity,” the ADL said.

Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders, campaigning in Arizona on Tuesday, said boosting national security and protecting civil rights must go hand-in-hand. He said he strongly disagrees with calls for heightened domestic surveillance of Muslims.

“That would be unconstitutional — it would be wrong,” Sanders said.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Imam Abdisalam Adam, the board chair of Dar Al-Hijrah Riverside Islamic Center, a mosque in a Somali neighborhood in Minneapolis, said putting more scrutiny on Muslim communities is not a way to keep the country safe.

“It’s counterproductive,” he said. “When you look at the American Muslim community, it’s very well integrated and very involved in civic unification … It’s a patriotic community that’s involved in so many aspects of the American life.”

Asked about Cruz’s comment, none of a half-dozen conservative House Republicans meeting with reporters Tuesday criticized him and most spoke of the need to keep the country safe.

“Nearly every neighborhood is patrolled. That’s what local law enforcement does,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who has endorsed Cruz. He added that he didn’t know specifically what Cruz was referring to.

“I believe in the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, every one of them, but we also know that in this country, we’re going to have to step up security in every neighborhood across America,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican who has endorsed Cruz.

Trump, speaking to Fox News on Tuesday morning, said he had warned about attacks like those that took place in the Belgian capital. “Brussels was a beautiful city, a beautiful place with zero crime, and now it’s a disaster city. A total disaster,” he said.

In December, following attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, Trump called for a temporary and conditional ban on Muslims coming to the United States. He described Brussels as a “hellhole” because of its radical elements and their connection to the Paris attacks.

Both Cruz and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton criticized Trump for saying Monday that NATO “is costing us a fortune” and the US should diminish its role in the Atlantic alliance in the coming years. Cruz said the suggestion of withdrawing from NATO is a “pre-emptive surrender.”

Speaking to CNN, Clinton called NATO “the best international defense alliance, I think, ever.” She reasserted her view that the US should embrace, rather than alienate, Muslim communities, saying “we want them to report it; we want them to be part of protecting the United States.”

timesofisrael

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