Donald Trump says he believes “Islam hates us” — and he isn’t sure if that hatred is held by Muslim extremists or the religion itself.
“I think Islam hates us,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday in an interview from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. “There’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it.”
The Republican frontrunner, who has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, was asked if the hatred was in Islam itself?
“You’re going to have to figure that out, OK? You’ll get another Pulitzer, right?” Trump replied. “But there is a tremendous hatred. And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.”
Cooper asked if there was a war between the West and radical Islam or Islam itself.
“It’s radical, but it’s very hard to define,” Trump said. “It’s very hard to separate, because you don’t know who’s who.”
The brash billionaire pointed to the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists as proof of the difficulty.
“These two young people that got married, she supposedly radicalized him,” Trump said. “The bottom line is they killed 14 people that gave them baby showers. I mean they were friends of theirs, so they walked in then they killed them. There’s an unbelievable hatred. You look at Paris, 138 people killed, many, many people going to die in the hospital, mortally wounded, horribly wounded, um, horribly wounded. And they walk into a room and boom, boom, boom. There’s, there’s a sickness going on that’s unbelievable.”
The spokesman for the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim advocacy group, condemned Trump’s comments.
“These remarks are completely outrageous,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director, told Yahoo News. “They endanger the lives of ordinary American Muslims. Every day, we’re receiving reports of assaults and threats against Muslim American citizens due to the unprecedented rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric.”
Trump, who had also called for U.S. military to go after the families of terrorists and bring back waterboarding, said last week that he understands “the United States is bound by laws” and "would not order our military or other officials to violate those laws.“
But Trump denied he had changed his position.
"I didn’t reverse anything,” he told Cooper. “We have to play the game at a much tougher level than we’re playing it now. We have to expand those laws.”
Trump continued: “We have to play with a tougher set of rules. We have — we have laws — we don’t allow waterboarding. Think of this. ISIS is — these are smart people. These are people that know the Internet better than we do, and we’re the ones that — that, you know, came up with it. ISIS is sitting around. They just chopped off 20 heads of Christians and others. They just drowned 40 people. And they’re sitting around watching us arguing about waterboarding.”
When pressed on which laws, specifically, he would expand as president, Trump said he would “work on it with the generals.”