Source: Al Jazeera
Rights groups have criticised American politicians’ comments about Muslims as a debate over the future of Syrian refugees in the United States intensified in the wake of the Paris attacks.
A poll conducted this week by Bloomberg Politics found that 53 percent of Americans oppose allowing Syrian refugees to resettle in the US.
According to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), US leaders, among them influential presidential candidates, are “mainstreaming Islamophobic and unconstitutional policies”.
Comments made this week by two leading Republican presidential candidates drew the ire of rights groups who criticised them for anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Donald Trump, who is leading in a recent NBC News poll among Republican voters, told NBC News on Thursday that he “would certainly implement” a database system for tracking Muslims.
“There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he added. “We should have a lot of systems.”
Trump’s comments came a day after he was criticised for refusing to rule out special government-issued identification cards for American Muslims.
The Republican front-runner had been asked by Yahoo News if Muslims should carry a form of special identification that noted their religion.
While talking about expanding surveillance measures on American Muslims, Trump said the US government “is going to have to look at a lot of things very carefully” and “look at the mosques”.
Such comments have a lasting impact on Muslims and other minorities in the US, CAIR spokesperson Robert McCaw told Al Jazeera.
McCaw said that American Muslims have been targeted by government surveillance programmes and intelligence agencies for years.
“The key difference is that Donald Trump would want to bring surveillance programmes like this out of the shadows and into the public with the intention of spying directly on American Muslims,” McCaw said.
“These are totalitarian ideas.”
Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who is just behind Trump in the polls, was also criticised for likening Syrian refugees to rabid dogs.
“If there is a rabid dog running around your neighbourhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog. And you’re probably going to put your children out of the way.”