By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton sparred with her Republican rival, Donald Trump, who again espoused anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
“Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror,” Clinton said at a campaign rally in Cleveland.
Though not mentioning him by name, Clinton’s comments were directed at the billionaire real estate developer who demanded the U.S. ban Muslims from entering the U.S. following a terror attack in California last year in which a self-radicalized couple killed 14 victims and wounded 22 others.
The former secretary of state acknowledged that the extremist threat is spreading to the Western world by inspiring so-called lone wolf attacks by individuals with “a twisted ideology and poisoned psychology”.
It is “dangerous” and “wrong” to call for a ban on Muslims or start “special surveillance on fellow Americans because of their religion”, she said.
Noting the need for vigilance against extremist groups that radicalize people with “their distorted version of Islam”, she pledged to make the fight against lone wolf attacks a top priority of her administration if she is elected in November.
Attributing the recent Orlando-type mass shootings to Muslims or Islam “plays right into the terrorists' hands”, according to Clinton.
“It's no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques have tripled after Paris and San Bernardino,” she added.
Speaking at a separate rally in New Hampshire, Trump took issue with his Democratic rival, accusing her and President Barack Obama of conforming to political correctness in the face of a national threat.
“They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else. I refuse to be politically correct,” he said. “The current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk, and to think and act clearly.”
Just after the Orlando shooting in which 49 victims were killed and 53 others wounded, Trump dared Clinton and Obama to refer to the attack as “radical Islamic terrorism”.
Responding to a question on Trump’s comments during a television interview prior to her campaign address, Clinton said that she would not have any problem with calling Orlando-type attacks a “radical jihadist” or “radical Islamic”.
In New Hampshire, Trump reiterated his Muslim ban until the U.S. is in “a position to properly and perfectly screen these people coming into our country”.
He said that the American-born Orlando shooter with Afghan immigrant parents would not have been in the U.S. if the country had not admitted his family.
“When I'm elected I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there's a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats,” Trump said, while pledging that he would not change his position on immigration policy.