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Ted Cruz defends patrolling of Muslim neighbourhoods

Ted Cruz elaborates on his plan to police Muslim neighbourhoods
WATCH: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz defended during a CNN town hall on how law enforcement should engage with the Muslim community.

Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz defended his controversial proposal to have police agencies patrol Muslim neighbourhoods to prevent terrorist attacks during a CNN town hall.

“There’s a difference between Islam and Islamism,” Cruz told Anderson Cooper Tuesday evening. “Islamism is a political and theoretical philosophy that commands its adherents to wage violent jihad to murder or forcibly convert all infidels. And by infidels, they mean every one of the rest of us.”

READ MORE: Cruz’s comments chastised by Muslims, civil rights groups

Cooper pushed back, pointing out that while Cruz created his plan after a program in New York City, the N.Y. Chief of Police Bill Bratton had criticized Cruz in a sharply worded op-ed that: “Sen. Cruz knows absolutely nothing about counterterrorism in New York City.”

“When Mayor Bill de Blasio got elected, he gave into political correctness and he shut it down,” Cruz told Cooper. “If you want to stop radical Islamic terrorism, the answer isn’t to go hang out in random neighbourhoods, it is instead to focus on communities where radicalization is at risk.”

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Cruz had made a similar statement in the wake of last week’s attacks in Brussels that killed more than 30 people. In a Facebook post, Cruz said: “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

READ MORE: Trump reiterates support for waterboarding

The Texas Senator published his own opinion piece in the New York Daily News on Monday where he claimed that law enforcement has been restrained from engaging with the Muslim communities throughout Europe.

“One of the causes of this horror has been European bureaucrats restraining law enforcement from fully engaging with the Muslim community in ‘no go’ zones,” Cruz wrote. “As a result, for years, a radical, theocratic, violent ideology has spread in some mosques and Muslim neighbourhoods throughout Europe. Terrorists have exploited these isolated enclaves to recruit followers, formulate plots and orchestrate attacks.”

READ MORE: Why young Belgian Muslims are easy prey for extremists

The idea of so-called “no go zones” has been thoroughly debunked. And Global News previously examined the issue of terrorism in Brussels and found that the root causes for Islamic fundamentalism in neighbourhoods like Molenbeek are high unemployment and alienation from Belgian society.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) slammed Cruz’s call for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods.”

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“Mr. Cruz’s call for law enforcement to ‘patrol and secure’ neighborhoods in which American Muslim families live is not only unconstitutional, it is unbefitting anyone seeking our nation’s highest office and indicates that he lacks the temperament necessary for any president,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a statement.

“We urge Ted Cruz to retract his call for fascist-like treatment of American Muslims and to offer an apology to all Americans.”