Despite petition calling for him to be banned from the UK, Republican hopeful denounces community's failure to report terror suspects
Donald Trump, the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for the US presidential race, launched an attack on British Muslims on Wednesday morning following bloody attacks in Brussels on Tuesday.
Trump appeared on Piers Morgan’s morning chat show, Good Morning Britain, telling his host that British Muslims are “absolutely not reporting” terror suspects.
“When they see trouble they have to report it,” said Trump.
The property billionaire businessman, who on Tuesday night sailed to victory in the Arizona primary, also defended his plan to ban all Muslims from entering the US.
Trump criticised Muslim communities for failing to “assimilate,” pointing to the fact that Salah Abdeslam, suspected ringleader of the network behind last year’s Paris attacks, was able to hide out in his home neighbourhood in Brussels for months and evade capture.
“There is something wrong, and we have to get to the bottom of it, when someone like that…was taken care of by people that live in the neighbourhood.”
He described Brussels as “an armed camp,” calling a lack of assimilation in the Belgian capital “an absolute disgrace”.
"All you have to do is look at the cities where there's been a large inflow and something's different," he said.
"There is very little assimilation for whatever reason... they want to go by their own sets of laws."
However, Trump denied accusations of racism, saying he has “great respect for Muslims”.
“I have many friends that are Muslims. I am just saying there is something with a radicalised portion that is very, very bad and very dangerous.”
Hitting back at his comments, a representative of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) accused Trump of bigotry and aiding terror by fuelling the idea “that Muslims are apart from the West and cannot be seen as equal citizens”.
“These things are not good for our society,” said Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the MCB.
UK terror hotline 'working'
Also speaking on the show, a representative of the UK police said the British Muslim community was increasingly engaging with authorities to stop militancy.
Neil Basu, deputy assistant commander with the Metropolitan Police, cited “increasing volumes of calls” to a dedicated anti-terror hotline.
Referring to the government’s controversial Prevent counter-radicalisation strategy, Basu said he “thinks it’s working – but this is a generation of work”.
Prevent – which trains teachers, psychologists and social workers to recognise supposed signs of radicalisation – has been criticised for its broad-brush approach, with children as young as eight referred to the programme over general comments about global terror.
Wednesday morning’s chat show divided opinions among viewers, with some praising Morgan – who has described Trump as a personal friend – for hosting the tycoon.
Others, though, blasted the interview, with one commenter on Twitter calling it a “new low” for the show.
Over 580,000 have now signed a petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK, after he said some areas of the country were so radicalised that police feared for their lives.