After already alienating Hispanics, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is apparently concerned that his fanbase is still too diverse. To fix that, he’s broadening his xenophobic views to include American Muslims, suggesting he would shut down certain mosques – though he’s not sure if that’s legal.
During an interview on Fox News’ “Varney & Co” on Tuesday, real estate mogul Donald Trump spent most of his time doing damage control over his comments that former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for the 9/11 terror attacks – an opinion not exactly popular among the Republican base.
But Trump still took time to dip his toe into new areas of controversy.
“They’ve got a whole new series of proposals to deal with [Islamic radicals], including withdrawal of passports from some of these people who’ve gone over just to fight,” said host Stuart Varney. “And closing some mosques – would you do the same thing in America?”
Without hesitation, Trump dove in.
“I would do that,” he responded. “Absolutely, I think it’s great.”
Given that the presidential contender climbed to the top of the polls based largely on his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants, adding a dash of Islamophobia feels like a return to form for Trump. But, while he may be able to run on promises of building an expensive and impractical wall along the US-Mexico border, closing mosques would likely run into legal trouble.
“Can you do it?” Varney asked, a little dubious. “Can you close a mosque? We do have religious freedom.”
“Well I don’t know,” Trump responded. “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.”
Trump is admittedly no constitutional scholar, but such a proposal would almost certainly run afoul of the first amendment, violating freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.
“But I can tell you one thing,” he continued, “if somebody goes over and they want to fight for ISIS, they wouldn’t be coming back.”
Trump has criticized President Obama for waging a war on Christians in the past. “The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christian in this country,” he told the Washington Post in September. But the president has never advocated for shutting down religious institutions of any kind, let alone Christian churches.
It appears that if Trump takes the White House in 2016 – current surveys show him polling at 32% among Republicans – he would pursue a very overt war on Islam.