GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump accused Muslims of intentionally declining to report suspected terrorist activity in a Wednesday interview on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain.”
“When they see trouble, they have to report it. They are not reporting it; they are absolutely not reporting it, and that’s a big problem,” Trump told host Piers Morgan.
The real estate tycoon’s remarks come a day after explosions allegedly set off by members of the Islamic State terrorist group killed 34 people and injured almost 200 others in Brussels.
Trump argued Muslim communities could have done more to prevent Tuesday’s attack, as well as the December shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, which was carried out by a married couple with ties to ISIS.
“It’s like they’re protecting each other, but they’re really doing very bad damage, and they have to open up to society,” Trump continued. “They have to report the bad ones.”
British officials were quick to condemn Trump’s comments as false and potentially dangerous.
“He said that Muslims were not coming forward in the United Kingdom to report matters of concern,” Interior Minister Theresa May told Parliament, according to a Reuters report. “This is absolutely not the case—he is just plain wrong,” she said.
Neil Basu, Deputy Assistant Commissioner to the UK Counter Terrorism Policing Network, said Trump’s remarks could spark hate crimes.
“if we demonize one section of the community, that is the worst thing we can do,” Basu said, as quoted by the Associated Press . “We are absolutely playing into the terrorists’ hands of making people feel hate.”
UK officials have criticized Trump for his remarks on Muslims before, particularly his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States after the San Bernardino attacks.
In January, Parliament took up a petition banning Trump from the United Kingdom for his proposal after over half a million people signed it. Lawmakers called him a “demagogue” and a “fool” but decided against excluding him from the country because they did not want to give him more attention.
Trump reiterated his call to “close up” U.S. borders after Tuesday’s attack in Brussels.