A leading Muslim civil rights group pushed back on Thursday against what it considers inflammatory language from Republican presidential candidates, condemning Ben Carson’s comparison of Syrian refugees to rabid dogs and Donald J. Trump’s support for requiring special identification for American followers of Islam.
Lawmakers and candidates have been wrestling with how to address a growing terrorism threat and an influx of refugees fleeing Syria. In recent days the debate has turned increasingly partisan and, in some cases, heated.
Mr. Trump was asked this week in an interview with Yahoo News if he would consider requiring Muslims to register in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. Not ruling that out, he said: “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques.”
Remarks by Mr. Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who, like Mr. Trump, has been leading several polls of Republican candidates, inflamed the situation. Addressing the issue of Syrian refugees on Thursday, he said that people who were against welcoming them to the United States were using their heads.
“If there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog,” Mr. Carson said, calling for stricter measures to screen refugees. “And you’re probably going to put your children out of the way.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the remarks by the two candidates, saying that they had worsened an already “toxic environment.”
“By mainstreaming Islamophobic and unconstitutional policies, Donald Trump and Ben Carson are contributing to an already toxic environment that may be difficult to correct once their political ambitions have been satisfied,” said Robert McCaw, the council’s government affairs manager. “Such extremist rhetoric is unbecoming of anyone who seeks our nation’s highest office and must be strongly repudiated by leaders from across the political spectrum.”