WASHINGTON (AP) — Vilifying and casting suspicion on American Muslims would threaten counterterrorism efforts and is un-American, the Homeland Security secretary said Monday at the nation’s second-largest mosque as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the US.
Secretary Jeh Johnson, after asking Muslims to report anyone in their communities suspected of turning toward violence, declined to respond directly to Trump’s proposal.
“I don’t comment on what candidates for office say during this political season,” Johnson said.
He said the US government needed to take a new approach to counterterrorism and homeland security that includes outreach to Muslim communities.
Johnson was participating in a round-table discussion Monday on civil rights and liberties at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, Virginia.
The discussion comes on the heels of President Obama’s address to the nation Sunday about last week’s shooting attack in San Bernardino, California, which the FBI is investigating as an act of terrorism. Obama also vowed to destroy the Islamic State group.
The Department of Homeland Security has spearheaded the White House’s efforts to counter violent extremism.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.