LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Muslims were not helping to prevent attacks such as those that killed at least 30 people in Belgium, drawing a rebuke from Britain’s government and from Muslim groups in the country.
In an interview broadcast on Britain’s ITV television on Wednesday, Trump was asked what his message was for British Muslims after Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels and the attacks in Paris last November.
“When they see trouble they have to report it, they are not reporting it, they are absolutely not reporting it and that’s a big problem,” Trump said.
His comments were countered by British interior minister Theresa May who said he was “just plain wrong” to suggest Muslims in Britain were failing to report suspicious activity by extremists.
Trump, the front-runner in the race to be the Republican candidate in November’s presidential election, has made a series of controversial statements during his campaign. His supporters see him as someone who speaks uncomfortable truths but he has outraged many others in the United States and around the world.
Trump, who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, said it was “a disgrace” that one of the suspects behind last November’s attacks in Paris had been found after a long manhunt by police in an area of Brussels where he lived.
“He was in his neighborhood where he grew up and nobody even turned him in and supposedly this is retribution for that. It’s a disgrace,” he said.
Trump said there were signs that an attack by suspected Muslim extremists in California in December, which killed 14 people, could have been stopped.
“A lot of people in the community knew they were going to do it because in their apartment they had bombs all over the floor ... and they didn’t report them,” he said.
“I don’t know what it is. It’s like they’re protecting each other but they’re really doing very bad damage. They have to open up to society, they have to report the bad ones.”
Britain’s May told parliament that Trump was mistaken.
“I understand he said that Muslims were not coming forward in the United Kingdom to report matters of concern. This is absolutely not the case - he is just plain wrong,” she said.
Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Addison