Trump tries to pull back from 'Muslim database' support

2015-11-22 09:27
Donald Trump. (Mark J Terrill, AP)

Donald Trump. (Mark J Terrill, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Donald Trump is trying to back away from his support for a government database to track Muslims in the United States, an idea that drew sharp rebukes from his Republican presidential rivals and disbelief from legal experts.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush called the prospect of a registry "abhorrent." Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the idea was "unnecessary" and not something Americans would support. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has largely avoided criticising Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, said, "I'm not a fan of government registries of American citizens."

The first reference to a database came in a Trump interview with Yahoo News published on Thursday. When asked about requiring Muslims to register in a database or carry a form of special identification noting their religion, Trump said, "We're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely."

Trump was pressed on the idea of a registry by an NBC News reporter on Thursday evening. Asked if there should be a database system for tracking Muslims in the US, Trump said, "There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases." The reporter asked if that was something Trump would put in place as president. Trump replied: "I would certainly implement that. Absolutely."

Trump also told the reporter that Muslims would "have to be" registered.

In an interview on Fox News Channel on Friday evening, Trump tried to clarify his position. "I want a watch list for the Syrian refugees that [President Barack] Obama's going to let in if we don't stop him as Republicans," he said.

He also said he had had trouble hearing the NBC reporter's questions.

Mosque surveillance

He addressed the issue during a rally in Alabama on Saturday, telling a crowd that reports on his previous statements were inaccurate. But he also voiced support for additional surveillance, both of arriving refugees and certain mosques.

"So here's the story just to set it clear: I want surveillance of these people. I want surveillance if we have to and I don't care," said Trump. "I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK."

The attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more have raised fears in the US and prompted calls for new restrictions on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

The House of Representatives passed legislation this past week essentially barring Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the United States. It's unclear whether the Senate could get enough votes to override a threatened veto by President Barack Obama.

Civil liberties experts said a database for Muslims would be unconstitutional on several counts. The libertarian Cato Institute's Ilya Shapiro said the idea violates basic privacy and liberty rights.

Violation of the Constitution

Marci Hamilton, a Yeshiva University legal expert on religious liberty, said requiring Muslims to register appears to be a clear violation of the Constitution's protection of religious freedom.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a Tennessee rally Friday evening, said, "Mr Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, he's attacked women and now he's attacking Muslim Americans. At some point you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of country we are?"

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has challenged Trump's lead in the Republican race, said the US should have a database on "every foreigner who comes into this country," but he rejected the idea of tracking US citizens based on their religion.

Carson said he would support government monitoring of "a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot radicalization and things that were anti-American."

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.