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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Muslim Communities Respond To Cruz's Plan To Patrol Neighborhoods

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during an appearance in New York on March 23, 2016 in New York City. Cruz, who is now in second place behind controversial candidate Donald trump, confirmed statements saying all Muslim neighborhoods would be patrolled by the police for terrorist activity if he were to become president. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during an appearance in New York on March 23, 2016 in New York City. Cruz, who is now in second place behind controversial candidate Donald trump, confirmed statements saying all Muslim neighborhoods would be patrolled by the police for terrorist activity if he were to become president. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

After the deadly attacks in Brussels this week, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said in a statement that police should patrol Muslim neighborhoods to prevent radicalization:

“We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized. We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS.”

The plan came under attack from Democrats and New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Here & Now’s Robin Young gets reaction from Osama Siblani, the publisher of the Arab American News in Dearborn, Michigan, which includes a large population of Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent.

Interview Highlights: Osama Siblani

On Ted Cruz’s comments

“I was just listening to a radical person who is radicalizing Americans. We are facing some serious issues in the world, including ISIS, and what we need, we need serious leaders and Ted Cruz is not one.”

On Muslims in America who would commit violent acts

“We have sick people, and the Muslim community is no different than in the Christian community or the Jewish community or any other community. We had a guy that was going around killing people in Kalamazoo, he killed six people and he drives an Uber. He is not a Muslim. And the guy from the Dearborn Heights, he’s still in court and according to the affidavit, I’m not going to defend them or anything like this but I can explain to you what I have known, but the guy is suffering from mental illness. That is for sure.”

What do you say to people who question why there are insular communities of people of Middle Eastern descent in the U.S.?

“This is America. America is nation of nations, and nothing is going on in Dearborn other than the great American dream is being realized every day by people who are working very hard to provide to their families. The thing is that we are being terrorized instead of being worked with to fight this animal called ISIS.”

Do people in Arab communities want more help to keep their children safe from ISIS recruitment?

“Our kids are not being recruited by ISIS, especially in this area because if you know the politics of the region, most of the people here are Shia in Dearborn and they are being targeted by ISIS. So when we hear of ISIS, people in here get scared like any other American. The fact is, Muslims overseas are fighting ISIS. They are dying every day to protect their countries and fight the terrorist organization and what we need to do is we need to help them rather than scare them and terrorize them.”

Do you welcome government programs aimed at rooting out the mentally unstable?

“Absolutely. They don’t need my permission to do that, however it would be nice if they did that with our cooperation. In fact, the day before yesterday, we had a big meeting about what happened in Belgium and also we talked about what will happen here in the United States and what we can do. We are in constant touch with the intelligence agencies and the federal officials here to counter any kind of radicalizations in our society. But for us, to listen to a presidential candidate profiling the entire Muslim community, it is absurd.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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