A group of leaders from America’s Muslim community strongly condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for claiming this week that “Islam hates us.”
The Muslim leaders also demanded an apology from Trump.
Trump made the comment during a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday.
“I think Islam hates us,” Trump told Cooper in response to a question about whether Islam is at war with the West.
“There’s something there,” the GOP front-runner said. “There’s tremendous hatred there. It’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us — anybody.” (VIDEO: Donald Trump: ‘I Think Islam Hates Us’)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group, criticized Trump’s statement.
“Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric does not reflect leadership, but instead reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world,” Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director, said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller.
“He should apologize to the Muslims serving in our nation’s armed forces, to the Muslim doctors who provide health care to millions of Americans, to the Muslim law enforcement officers who keep communities safe, to the Muslim women targeted by hate because of their attire, and to the Muslim students who face bullying because of their faith,” Awad said.
Awad also said he hoped Trump would walk back his remarks during Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate in Miami.
Trump did not apologize and chose to stand by his comments.
“Did you mean all 1.6 billion Muslims?” moderator Jake Tapper asked Trump during Thursday night’s debate.
“I mean a lot of them, I mean a lot of them,” Trump responded.
“I will stick with exactly what I said,” Trump added.
In December, Trump called for a moratorium on allowing Muslims to enter the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” and because “there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.” (RELATED: Trump Calls For Moratorium On Muslims Entering United States)
Last month, an American Muslim public policy group, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, challenged Trump to a public debate about his views concerning Muslim Americans and his vision of religious pluralism.
“You have no understanding of the world in which you live,” the group’s open letter to Trump charged. “That’s why you insist on backward policies, such as building walls and segregating communities based on religion.”
Trump does not appear to have responded to the debate challenge.