Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would be willing to close some mosques within the United States in order to fight the Islamic State.
In an interview on Fox Business, Stuart Varney asked Trump whether, if elected president, would take similar action as the British government, which has revoked the passports of people of some and closed mosques.
“I would do that, absolutely, I think it’s great,” Trump responded. “If you go out, you go fight for ISIS, you can’t come back. Why can’t you do it? You can do it here.”
Varney asked, “Can you close a mosque? I mean, we do have religious freedom.”
“Well I don’t know,” Trump said. “I mean, I haven’t heard about the closing of the mosque. It depends, if the mosque is, you know, loaded for bear, I don’t know. You’re going to have to certainly look at it.”
“But I can tell you one thing,” Trump said. “If somebody goes over and they want to fight for ISIS, they wouldn’t be coming back.”
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has held a congressional hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” and has received campaign contributions from Trump in the past, criticized the Republican front-runner on Fox News when he was asked about the remarks.
“Donald Trump is talking before he knows what he’s talking about,” King said. “I have been critical of people in the Muslim community, but the fact is you can’t be shutting down mosques.”
King said the U.S. should have surveillance of mosques to find out “if there’s activity in that mosque, where there’s weapons or if there’s actual conspiracy going on. Then yes you can take action. But to be casually, the way Donald Trump seems to be talking about shutting down mosques? No.”
King said that if the U.S. knows a plot is taking place in a mosque, it should be able to take action.
“We do have freedom of religion,” King said. “And my position is not against the Muslims, it’s against the radicals in the Muslim community.”
The role of Islam in the U.S. has become a hot button issue among the Republican candidates. In September, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said that he doesn’t believe the country should elect a Muslim president because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution.
A Pew Research survey last year found that Republicans and Republican leaners view atheists and Muslims much more negatively than they view other religious groups. The general public views Muslims, who make up about 1 percent of the country’s population, the most negatively of all religions.