Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday defended his proposal for police to patrol Muslim communities in the wake of the attacks in Brussels.
“That does not mean targeting Muslims, it means targeting radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a phone interview when asked what he meant by calling for the patrols.
Earlier in the day, Cruz had released a statement calling for “law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
His campaign later clarified that his plan calls for “visible law enforcement presence that will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes.”
During his interview on CNN, Cruz said that “our enemies are not every Muslim.”
“Our enemy is radical Islamic terrorists, are the jihadists that seek to murder us. And it is the heart of law enforcement and national security to prevent those who are waging war on you from actually carrying out their attempted acts of war,” he said.
He later compared his proposal to law enforcement’s approach to preventing gang violence.
“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,” Cruz said.
“But you’re talking about Muslim neighborhoods, not radicals particularly,” Cooper jumped in to say.
“I’m talking about any area where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz said in response.
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly also confronted Cruz over his plan on Wednesday night. O’Reilly told Cruz that his proposal is “not going to do any good.”
In response, Cruz told O’Reilly that “we should use law enforcement to prevent radicalization and target radical Islamic terrorism.”