Ri­vals con­demn Trump’s call to reg­is­ter Mus­lims

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: Don­ald Trump’s sup­port for reg­is­ter­ing US Mus­lims in a data­base drew crit­i­cism Fri­day from ri­val Repub­li­cans and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial fron­trun­ner Hil­lary Clin­ton, amid bursts of con­tro­ver­sial rhetoric from GOP can­di­dates. Trump, lead­ing the polls for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, has made sev­eral bel­liger­ent re­marks about Mus­lims and Syr­ian refugees in the wake of last week’s at­tacks in Paris claimed by the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group.

Trump was asked by NBC News on Thurs­day whether he would sup­port cre­at­ing a data­base sys­tem to track Mus­lims. “I would cer­tainly im­ple­ment that. Ab­so­lutely,” Trump told the net­work at a cam­paign stop in Iowa.

“There should be a lot of sys­tems, be­yond data­bases.” As to how he would get Mus­lims reg­is­tered, he said it could be done at “dif­fer­ent places”, not just mosques. “It would be just good man­age­ment,” he said. Trump was later asked whether there was a dif­fer­ence be­tween re­quir­ing Mus­lims to reg­is­ter to­day and Jews reg­is­ter­ing with Ger­many’s Nazis in the 1930s. “You tell me,” Trump re­sponded.

Clin­ton slammed Trump’s re­marks as “shock­ing rhetoric”. “It should be de­nounced by all seek­ing to lead this coun­try,” she wrote on Twit­ter. Repub­li­can can­di­date Jeb Bush, who has sug­gested Chris­tian refugees should be pri­or­i­tized over Mus­lims, laid into Trump, say­ing Amer­i­cans do not have to aban­don their val­ues to fight ex­trem­ism. “You talk about in­tern­ment, you talk about clos­ing mosques, you talk about reg­is­ter­ing peo­ple, and that’s just wrong,” Bush told CNBC Fri­day. “That’s not strength, that’s weak­ness.” Ohio Gov­er­nor John Ka­sich said forc­ing some­one to reg­is­ter with the gov­ern­ment be­cause of their re­li­gion “strikes against all that we have be­lieved in our na­tion’s history”.

By mid-day Fri­day, Trump ap­peared to walk back his re­marks, al­though he stood firm on the need for vig­i­lance in track­ing ex­trem­ists. “I didn’t sug­gest a data­base - a re­porter did,” Trump tweeted to his five mil­lion fol­low­ers. “We must de­feat Is­lamic ter­ror­ism & have sur­veil­lance, in­clud­ing a watch list, to pro­tect Amer­ica.”

In an in­ter­view on Fox News Chan­nel Fri­day evening, Trump tried to clar­ify his po­si­tion, say­ing, “I want a watch list for the Syr­ian refugees that Obama’s go­ing to let in if we don’t stop him as Repub­li­cans”. He said he’d had trou­ble hear­ing the NBC re­porter’s ques­tions. But he didn’t dis­avow the idea of a gen­eral registry for Mus­lims liv­ing in the coun­try or say de­ci­sively he wouldn’t sup­port it. “I want to have watch lists. I want to have sur­veil­lance. I mean, we’re not a bunch of ba­bies,” he said.

Ben Car­son, a top Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tender, pushed back against Trump. “If we’re just go­ing to pick out a par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple based on their re­li­gion, based on their race... that’s set­ting a dan­ger­ous prece­dent,” he told re­porters in New Hamp­shire. Car­son made his own con­tro­ver­sial com­ments af­ter the Paris at­tacks, in­clud­ing Thurs­day when he equated the threat of ex­trem­ists slip­ping into the coun­try as refugees with the threat of a “ra­bid dog”.

Se­na­tor Ted Cruz, who has been ret­i­cent to di­rectly at­tack Trump on the cam­paign trail, is op­posed to Syr­ian Mus­lim refugees reach­ing US shores. But Cruz said he op­posed a Mus­lim data­base on the grounds it would in­fringe on Amer­i­can re­li­gious lib­erty. “I’m not a fan of gov­ern­ment reg­istries of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens,” he said. “What I do think is im­por­tant is that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment be far more vig­or­ous go­ing af­ter rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ists.”

The Repub­li­can can­di­dates’ uni­fied crit­i­cism of Trump was strik­ing. His ri­vals have vac­il­lated in their han­dling of other in­flam­ma­tory com­ments from him, wary of alien­at­ing his supporters while in­creas­ingly con­cerned that he’s main­tained his grip on the GOP race deep into the fall. Civil lib­er­ties ex­perts said a data­base for Mus­lims would be un­con­sti­tu­tional on sev­eral counts, while the lib­er­tar­ian Cato In­sti­tute’s Ilya Shapiro said the idea also vi­o­lates ba­sic pri­vacy and lib­erty rights.

Marci Hamil­ton, a Yeshiva Univer­sity le­gal ex­pert on re­li­gious lib­erty, said re­quir­ing Mus­lims to reg­is­ter ap­pears to be a clear vi­o­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion’s pro­tec­tion of re­li­gious free­dom. “What the First Amend­ment does and what it should do is drive the gov­ern­ment to use neu­tral cri­te­ria,” Hamil­ton said. “You can use neu­tral cri­te­ria to iden­tify ter­ror­ists. What it can’t do is en­gage in one-re­li­gion bash­ing. That won’t fly in any court.” Mean­while, the An­tiDefama­tion League in New York called Trump’s pro­posal “deeply trou­bling and rem­i­nis­cent of darker days in Amer­i­can history when oth­ers were sin­gled out for scape­goat­ing.” — Agen­cies

Don­ald Trump

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