Anti-Muslim rhetoric embarrassment to US, says Kerry

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WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that this election season’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was an “embarrassment” to the United States.

In an interview to CBS News “Face the Nation” show, Mr Kerry said that such statements had baffled every overseas leader he met this season.

“Everywhere I go, every leader I meet, they ask about what is happening in America. They cannot believe it,” he said. “I think it is fair to say that they’re shocked.

They don’t know where it’s taking the United States of America.”

After last week’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, some Republican politicians have reiterated their demand for banning Muslim immigrants. Others demanded continuous surveillance of Muslim homes and worship places in the United States. Some also called for torturing Muslim terrorism suspects for extracting information from them. Asked if world leaders saw this rhetoric as part of the election circus or took it more seriously, Secretary Kerry said: “It upsets people’s sense of equilibrium about our steadiness, about our reliability.”

Explaining why this rhetoric was an embarrassment to the United States, he said: “And to some degree, I must say to you, some of the questions, the way they’re posed to me, it’s clear to me that what’s happening is an embarrassment to our country.”

Reacting to the Brussels attacks, which killed 35 people last week, Republican front-runner Donald Trump promised to bring back torture and “do a lot more than waterboarding”, while his rival, Senator Ted Cruz, suggested stepping up policing of “Muslim neighbourhoods” across the country.

“Frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws or had the laws, waterboarding would be fine,’’ Mr Trump told NBC’s “Today”.

“If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people,” he said.

Senator Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month, said in November that “whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalise and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at.”

“The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programmes,” he told Fox News.

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