In the wake of Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for increased surveillance of American Muslims. “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” the U.S. senator from Texas said.
“He’s talking about using already strapped resources to address a non-issue,” said Nizar Hasan, president of the Arab American Police Association, whose members come from law enforcement agencies in the Chicagoland area. “We could barely get enough officers in the inner city to combat gang crimes and to reduce the amount of drugs coming across the border,” Hasan added, “and now you want to reallocate already strapped resources to so-called de-radicalize the Muslim religion? It’s far-fetched.”
Hasan warned that targeting Muslim communities could also undermine the already weak trust that many Arab Americans, in particular, have in law enforcement. “I don’t know if there’s any criminals within the Muslim community - I’m sure there is, just like any community,” he said. “But it’s a small percentage. And now you want to tax the entire community over a couple of, for lack of better terms, crazies? Crazy people that are doing crazy things in the name of their religion?”
Cruz’s statement also prompted alarm from the national Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We’re harkening back to the dark days of the 1930s with this kind of mentality,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper in a written statement. “It’s unconstitutional.”
The Chicago Police Department declined to comment on whether it has the resources to heed Cruz’s call, or whether the proposal would be effective in preventing attacks from happening in Chicago. The department did seek to reassure the public in the wake of the Brussels explosions that there is no reason to believe a similar attack is planned for Chicago. “However we prepare and have deployments in place to safeguard critical infrastructure,” said CPD spokesman Anthony Gugliemi.