Trump suggests tracking all Muslims in the US, while Carsons comments mark further low point after House vote singles out people fleeing Middle East conflict
The race for the Republican nomination for the White House took a new turn in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks on Thursday as the front-runner, Donald Trump, called for a database to track Muslims living in the United States, while his closest rival, Ben Carson, suggested refugees of the Syrian conflict should be screened as they might be rabid dogs.
As the rhetoric exploded, the House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority to stiffen requirements to vet Syrian refugees seeking to enter the United States, and CNN, the cable news network, suspended a reporter for two weeks for reporting the news on Twitter with the comment: Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish.
A week after attackers linked with the Islamic State group killed 132 people in Paris, the simmering political debate in the United States rose to a boil, with Trump, Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and others floating new proposals they said would protect the United States from such an event.
Earlier in the week Cruz and Bush proposed a religious test for refugees from Syria only about 2,200 of whom have entered the United States in the last four years after extensive security vetting saying that Christian applicants should be prioritized.
By Thursday a religious test for refugees had become a religious test for all Americans for one Republican candidate, with Trump telling reporters he would absolutely implement a database of American Muslims and unspecified other measures.
I would certainly implement that. Absolutely, Trump told NBC between town hall appearances in Iowa. There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases, he added. We should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it.
Asked whether there would be a sign-up at mosques, Trump said: Different places. You sign them up at different places. Its all about management.
Asked how the practice of registering Muslims would be different from registering Jews in Nazi Germany, Trump said: You tell me.
Earlier he told Yahoo: Certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy.
Asked whether this might mean registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion, the candidate would not rule it out.
Were going to have to look at a lot of things very closely, Trump said. Were going to have to look at the mosques. Were going to have to look very, very carefully.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum was moved to join the debate on Thursday with an extraordinary statement.
Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis, the statement began. While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.
A spokesperson for the museum said the statement was not released based on any one statement from a presidential candidate or on the House vote.
We have been evaluating the situation over the past days and weeks, said museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger in an email to the Guardian. The statement was not timed with a specific announcement. It was released when we evaluated the situation and felt that we needed to contribute to the conversations.
On Thursday, Carson, who has opposed all new entries for Syrian refugees, sought to explain his position at a campaign stop in Alabama with an analogy about rabid dogs.
If theres a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, youre probably not going to assume something good about that dog, Carson said. And youre probably going to put your children out of the way. That doesnt mean that you hate all dogs. The retired neurosurgeon later insisted that his statement only referred to terrorists.
The clamor stateside followed sharp criticism of the Republican position on Tuesday from Barack Obama, speaking in the Philippines where he was attending a regional summit.
We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic, Obama said. We dont make good decisions if its based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.
The House vote was widely seen as a symbolic acknowledgment of national angst in the wake of the latest brazen terror attack on a world capital.
Democrat Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who opposed the House bill, told reporters: People are scared it has nothing to do with party affiliation, but people in this country right now are frightened over what they see as a flawed immigration system.
He said any politician who disregarded the legitimate and very real fear thats out there, were going to get slapped around. However he insisted the bill was simply designed to make people feel better about a vetting process that was already very rigorous and would never become law.
Cleaver echoed the thoughts of Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Tennessee senator told reporters that he thought the administration was undermining its own attempts to convince the American public that Syrian refugees should continue to be admitted.
Someone needs to explain clearly to American people the processes that we go through before we admit refugees, Corker said. To browbeat someone because they are concerned about their kids is not a productive process.
Additional reporting by Alan Yuhas in New York