A day after the Islamic State group, aka ISIS, took responsibility for attacks in Brussels that killed more than 30 people, American presidential candidate Donald Trump accused the Muslim community of not reporting extremists they suspect could become terrorists. Trump, the front-runner in the United States Republican primary, told Good Morning Britain on Wednesday that the tragedy in Brussels was "a disgrace" but put responsibility on local Muslim organizations.
"They're protecting each other, but they're really doing very bad damage. They have to open up to society and report the bad ones," he said. "When they see trouble, they have to report it. They are absolutely not reporting it, and that's a big problem."
Trump cited two examples to back up this theory. The Guardian reported he alleged that the people of Brussels had "coddled and taken care of" Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested this week for his alleged involvement in the November Paris attacks, and Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who police say were behind a December shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Trump, who as of Wednesday morning had 739 of the 1,237 delegates needed to become the GOP's presidential nominee, added that he thinks Muslims aren't being assimilated into European society. He then insisted he isn't "anti-anything" and vowed to "hit ISIS so hard you wouldn't believe it."
The billionaire's statements drew immediate outrage from people like Neil Basu, a deputy assistant commissioner and counterterrorism expert with the British police, the Associated Press reported. In an interview with BBC Radio, Basu criticized Trump for stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the Brussels attacks.
"If we demonize one section of the community, that is the worst thing we can do. We are absolutely playing into the terrorists' hands of making people feel hate," Basu said.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, also refuted Trump's comments, the Huffington Post reported. Versi said the candidate fuels bigotry — and is just plain wrong.
"We’ve had mosques that throw extremists out of their midsts. We’ve had many hundreds of Muslims reporting other Muslims to the police and to counterterror officials," Versi said. "Of course there are fringe elements in any community, and there are people who have gone to Syria to fight for Daesh, or so-called ISIS. They are people we need to stop."