US presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz says it is time for law enforcement to "patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods" in response to the series of deadly attacks in Belgium.
Cruz, who is seeking the nomination in the Republican Party in the United States, said in a statement on Tuesday that authorities should implement the policy before those neighbourhoods "become radicalised".
"We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al-Qaeda or ISIS presence," Cruz said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
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In a separate statement posted on Facebook, Cruz said "radical Islam is at war with us. And the truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it".
He was also quoted as saying on Fox News television: "ISIS has declared jihad on Europe and on the United States of America. They have declared their intention to murder as many innocents as possible."
Earlier on Tuesday, a series of bomb attacks hit Belgium's capital Brussels killing more than 30 people and wounding about 200 others.
ISIL said it was responsible for carrying out the blasts at Brussels' airport and an underground train.
Cruz' call drew a swift response from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairman of the Democratic Party, who called him a "disgrace".
"His comments today were worse than opportunistic and inappropriate politicking in the way of the terrible tragedy in Brussels - they were a shameful display of hate that only serves to foment anger and make the world less secure."
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The Council on American-Islamic Relations - the largest Muslim civil rights organisation in the US - also condemned Cruz and called on him to "retract and apologise for his unconstitutional policy proposal".
"Does that mean checkpoints on every corner? Does that mean 'your papers please' requests for anyone who looks stereotypically Muslim?
"Does that mean kicking in the doors of Muslim homes and businesses?" said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the council, in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.
"We're harkening back to the dark days of the 1930s with this kind of mentality. It's unconstitutional. It's un-American and it’s unbefitting someone who's running for our nation's highest office."
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump also reacted to the Brussels attack saying President Barack Obama has been "so weak" that "terror groups are forming and getting stronger".
Source: Al Jazeera