WASHINGTON: America´s presidential rivals offered sharply different approaches for tackling extremism Monday after the Orlando massacre, with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump accusing Muslims of failing to report potential terrorists in their midst.
The provocative billionaire, likely to square off against Democrat Hillary Clinton in November´s election, also reiterated his call for a halt to all Syrian refugees entering the United States and warned there are people living in the country with “hate in their heart.”
Trump has sought to portray himself as a national security stalwart in the wake of Sunday´s massacre at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman possibly inspired by Islamic extremists killed 49 people before he was killed by police.
While Clinton zeroed in on fighting Islamic State extremism and the need to rein in American gun violence, Trump seized on how Muslims may be protecting their own, including the Orlando shooter, at the expense of national security.
“People in the area, people in the neighborhood, they know there´s something off with him and they don´t report them to the police,” Trump told CNN.
“The Muslim community does not report people like this,” he said.
“Right now we have thousands of people… living in the United States who have the same kind of hate in their heart as he had, and we have to know who they are.”
Trump´s argument followed his accusations that neighbors and relatives of the San Bernardino attackers who slaughtered 14 people last December knew the couple had been radicalized but did not alert authorities.
“We have to get the people that surround these maniacs to start talking,” Trump added on ABC. He also said it was time “to have a ban of people coming in from Syria and different parts of the world with this philosophy that is so hateful and so horrible.”
And Trump repeated his argument about the arming of US citizens, saying if more club-goers had had guns, fewer people would have been killed.
Clinton for her part recognized the need to track so-called lone wolves and prevent them from launching attacks, and she reiterated her call for the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban, saying Orlando shooter Omar Mateen used a “weapon of war” to kill his victims.
Congress in 1994 adopted a 10-year ban on the manufacture and sale of certain semi-automatic weapons, but lawmakers allowed it to expire.
Trump meanwhile has hammered President Barack Obama and Clinton for failing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” in addressing the problem.
But Clinton shot back, telling NBC: “Radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I´m happy to say either, that´s not the point.”
She warned that “demagoguery” would not end terrorism. “I´m not going to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion,” she said.
“That is dangerous and plays into ISIS´s hands.”