Campaign Rhetoric on Muslims Harms U.S. Security Efforts: Homeland Security Chief

WASHINGTON — Harsh rhetoric about Muslims by Republican candidates in the U.S. presidential election campaign is undermining national security efforts, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday.

Asked about comments by Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Johnson told MSNBC in an interview that singling out a specific community hampers government efforts to build the connections needed to thwart possible attacks.

“Inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighbors or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests,” he said.

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, called for police to patrol American Muslim neighborhoods following the Brussels bombings. Billionaire businessman Trump has continued his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The rhetoric has polarized the U.S. electorate and prompted criticism, particularly from Democrats, including President Barack Obama.