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Days after terror attacks rocked Brussels, killing 34 people, GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Donald Trump called for increased restrictions and regulations on Muslims in the United States. Representative Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim to serve in Congress, called the remarks “reprehensible.”

Following the terror attacks, which ISIS claimed responsibility for, Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and has also advocated for surveillance of Muslim communities in the United States. Ellison, who represents the Minnesota, which has a high Muslim population, said “the fact is, what both Trump and Cruz have said is reprehensible, wrong, unconstitutional, counterproductive, and bad policing.”

“It doesn’t help us get safer, but it does undermine the rights of U.S. citizens,” Ellison said in an interview on MSNBC.

“We’re not going to let go of our American value system just because Cruz is scared” and would rather “scapegoat a religious minority,” Ellison said. If Cruz were to come visit the Muslim-rich areas in his home state, the presidential candidate would likely be engaged in conversations that have “nothing to do with Islam,” but rather the welfare of their children and their education, Ellison said.

But, he made clear that Trump and Cruz’s remarks about Muslims are not out of ignorance. “Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are very smart people. This is about electioneering. This is about them exploiting the ignorance of other people,” Ellison said during the interview, adding “they know better, but they don’t want to do better, because they think it’s going to help them in an election.”

Speaking directly about the Muslim populations in question, Ellison said “I’m offended for them, I’m offended with them.”

Yasmeen Alamiri is a political reporter for Rare. Follow her on Twitter @Yalamiri
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