Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for law enforcement patrols of "Muslim neighbourhoods" following the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels. The Texas senator also called for a ban on new refugees from areas affected by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (Isis).
"We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant Al Qaeda or Isis presence," Cruz said in a statement. "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalised."
Cruz, who is currently in second place in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, added that the West can no longer deny the existence of radical Islamic terrorism. "Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighbourhoods."
According to POLITICO, Cruz also claimed the US should secure its border with Mexico to prevent terrorists from coming in. Cruz campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart added in an email: "We know what is happening with these isolated Muslim neighbourhoods in Europe.
"If we want to prevent it from happening here, it is going to require an empowered, visible law enforcement presence that will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes.
"Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies all have divisions that target threats like drugs, gangs, human trafficking, and organised crime. Radical Islamic terrorism is a significant and growing threat in this country, but this administration refuses to recognise it because they are afraid of being labeled 'politically incorrect,'" Stewart continued. "The police should have every tool available to follow leads and take action against those who would do us harm."
Cruz's comments were met with swift condemnation from Muslim groups, as well as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and GOP rival John Kasich. "Muslim Americans: this is your country, too. These kinds of proposals are dangerous, hateful, and beneath us," Clinton tweeted. Kasich also took to Twitter to condemn Cruz's comments. "We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with radical Islam."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, released a biting criticism of Cruz's proposal. "Ted Cruz is a disgrace," Schultz said. "This is not leadership; it is fear-mongering for political gain. And this is the sad state of Republican leadership today, where the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the GOP's presidential candidates seems to reach new lows each day."
Meanwhile, Cruz's chief rival and leading Republican candidate Donald Trump called for waterboarding and "a lot more" to gain intelligence from captured terrorists. "Waterboarding would be fine. if they can expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding," the bombastic real estate mogul said. "You have to get the information from these people."
Isis (Daesh) claimed responsibility for the triple suicide bombings at the international airport and a metro station in Brussels. The attack left at least 34 dead and injured dozens.