President Barack Obama on Wednesday joined those condemning Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz for calling for police to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" in the wake of the Belgian terror attacks.
Speaking in Argentina and quoted by NBC News, Obama said that strategy "makes no sense."
"We have an extraordinarily successful, patriotic, integrated Muslim community," said the president. "They do not feel ghettoized, they do not feel isolated."
"Any approach that would target them for discrimination is not only wrong and un-American, but counter-productive," added Obama.
"As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free," he said. "The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense. It's contrary to who we are."
In a statement issued following the Brussels terrorist attacks, Cruz wrote "Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods.”
His spokesperson, Alice Stewart, later clarified that the statement meant there should be a strong presence of law enforcement in neighborhoods with significant Muslim populations.
Obama's condemnation of Cruz followed a similar statement by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is said to have Hamas links.
A spokesman for the group said on Tuesday, "It's really beyond belief that you have one of the leading presidential candidates calling for law enforcement to target religious communities totally based on the fact that they are of a particular faith."
Later on, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also condemned Cruz and said his call for patrols was “demonizing all Muslims.”
On Wednesday, according to NBC, Obama also ripped Cruz's oft-stated call for "carpet-bombing" Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
"What we don't do, and what we should not do, is take approaches that are gonna be counterproductive," he said. "So when I hear somebody saying we should carpet bomb Iraq or Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for (ISIS) to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport or in a metro station. That's not a smart strategy."