After March 22’s terrorist bombings in Brussels, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said in a statement he wanted the United States to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
However, the Texas senator’s proposal did not sit well with President Obama. On March 23 Obama spoke at a joint news conference with Argentine President Mauricio Marci and called out on Ted Cruz’s yesterday’s proposal.
“As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance—which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free,” Obama said.
He noted that if anyone “single out” or “target” Muslims, “it is not only wrong and un-American, but it also would be counterproductive because it would reduce the strength, the antibodies that we have to reduce terrorism.”
“One of the great strengths of the U.S. and why we haven’t seen more attacks in the U.S. is we have an extraordinarily successful patriotic, integrated Muslim-American community. They do not feel isolated,” he continued.
Obama also reassured that ISIS is his “top priority,” saying, “there is no more important item on my agenda” but that we have to go about defeating the group “in an intelligent way.”
He admits that although it is “difficult work” the U.S. should not take “approaches that are going to be counterproductive.”
He further went on to say:
We defeat them in part by saying “you are not strong, you are weak.” We send a message to those that might be inspired by them to say “you are not going to change our values of liberty and openness and the respect of all people.”
A lot of it is going to be saying, “you don’t have power over us, we are strong, our values are right, you offer nothing except death.”
The president also reflected on the deadly attack in Brussels that killed at least 34 people and left 270 wounded, saying, “I have two young daughters who are growing up a little too fast. I want them to have the freedom to move and travel around the world without the possibility that they be killed.”
“I understand why this is the top priority of the American people,” he added. “This is my top priority as well.”
Two of the suicide bombers in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks have been identified as Belgian brothers Khalid and Ibrahim Bakraoui—another suspect, and ISIS bomb-maker, is on the run.