Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday cautioned against rushing to judgment of an entire religion in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, saying just because someone is Muslim doesn’t mean they automatically deserve extra scrutiny or are intent on doing harm.
“We are not at war with Islam — we’re at war with radical Islam,” Mr. Kasich told reporters in Minnesota. “We are going to need to have a coalition of people. Both Arab Muslims who are going to join the coalition to destroy ISIS, the people in Egypt, the people in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the Gulf states all know that they have an existential threat from radical Islam.”
“Secondly, in our country, we don’t want to create divisions where we say OK, well your religion, you’re a Muslim, and therefore we’re going to keep an eye on you,” said Mr. Kasich, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate.
The Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has claimed responsibility for the Tuesday attacks in Belgium, which left more than two dozen people dead.
“The civilized world versus those that represent a culture of death, which is the radical Islamists,” Mr. Kasich said. “But just because you happen to be a Muslim doesn’t mean that you are a radicalized person that wants to destroy somebody in the West.
“I do think it is important that we are able to have the intelligence to let our law enforcement and intelligence officials know who is radicalized. I mean, that’s a given,” he said. “But the last thing we need is more polarization because, frankly, for those who want to preserve Islam as a religion that is not at war with the West, we alienate them. How are we supposed to ever get the information we need?
“At a time like this, this is a time when you have to keep your cool,” he said. “This is a time when you have to have a good action plan of how to move forward. This is a time where you have to remain strong, but not a time in which you should let your rhetoric take advantage of a situation where people may be frightened. This is time for real leadership.”
Mr. Kasich also reiterated his call for President Obama to return to the United States from the president’s trip to Cuba to address the developing situation.
GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who last year called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States after the San Bernardino attacks, said earlier Tuesday that people are going to have to be looking at mosques in the wake of the Brussels attacks and that the United States is “having problems with Muslims coming into the country.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, who is also running for president, called for halting the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaeda or Islamic State presence, securing the southern border, and executing a campaign to destroy the terrorist group.
“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” Mr. Cruz said in a statement.
“For years, the West has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear,” Mr. Cruz said. “We can no longer afford either. Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods.”
Speaking later on CNN, Mr. Cruz said officials should be working with Muslim communities in the effort to combat radical Islamic terrorism.
“We have seen for seven years that being afraid to confront what it is we’re facing, being afraid to name it, that it is radical Islamic terrorism, has left us vulnerable to jihad, to acts of terror,” he said. “We’ve seen that in Paris, we’ve seen that in San Bernardino, we’ve seen that in Brussels.
“Now, that does not mean targeting Muslims,” Mr. Cruz said. “It means targeting radical Islamic terrorism.”
He cited a policy under former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg where the NYPD reportedly surveilled parts of the city’s Muslim community, calling it “very successful.”
He called current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ending the program “political correctness run amok.”
“Of course we should be working with the Muslim community to target radical Islamic terrorism, to prevent radicalization,” Mr. Cruz said. “That is entirely consistent with active and proactive law enforcement.”