(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League condemned Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for calling on police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Cruz called in a statement for new powers for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods” in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, before the residents “become radicalized.”
“If you have a neighborhood where there’s a high level of gang activity, the way to prevent it is you increase the law enforcement presence there and you target the gang members to get them off the streets,” the Texas senator told CNN’s Anderson Cooper later in the day. “I’m talking about any area where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism.”
Responding in a statement Tuesday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said: “As we saw in Brussels today, violent terrorism is a legitimate concern for the home front. But demonizing all Muslims is a misguided and counterproductive response to the terrorist threat posed by those motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam.”
He also said: “The overwhelming majority of Muslims in America are law-abiding people who are as outraged by terrorism and bigotry as Americans of every other faith. Sweeping generalizations about them can serve only to foment discrimination and hate crimes against innocent, devoted Americans. Furthermore, our law enforcement agencies need the cooperation of Muslim communities and community leaders to combat and deter crimes, including violent extremism.”
Calling the patrols of Muslim neighborhoods “an irrational approach,” Greenblatt said: “Ordering special patrols of Muslim neighborhoods will almost certainly create an adversarial relationship between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect, making those communities more vulnerable, more frightened, and often less willing to help. The approach is contrary to the principles of individual rights, equality, justice, and religious freedom on which this nation was founded.”
The ADL on Tuesday also sent a letter to Cruz expressing concern about two individuals he has identified as members of a national security coalition that he would put together if elected president. The individuals were identified as Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin and Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., “who have a history of anti-Muslim bigotry and have promoted outrageous conspiracy theories involving Muslims,” according to ADL.