Anti-Muslim sentiment like 'Red Scare', says US security chief

Anti-Muslim sentiment like 'Red Scare', says US security chief
2 min read
07 April, 2016
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday compared current anti-Muslim sentiment in the US to the anti-communist "Red Scare" of the 1940s and 1950s.
Johnson said those who do not know history are bound to repeat it [AFP]

The US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday compared current anti-Muslim sentiment to the anti-communist "Red Scare" of the 1940s and 1950s, suggesting that divisive statements by Republican presidential candidates are to blame.

"Efforts and dialogue that have the effect of vilifying American Muslims are counter to our homeland security interest," he said, without specifically naming any political candidates.

Johnson, who is African American, noted that his grandfather was forced to testify in front of the House of Representatives in 1949 to assure officials that African Americans were not a fifth column for communists.

"He had to, in the height of the Red Scare, to deny he was a member of the communist party, and went on to give an impassioned statement about how American negroes are patriotic," Johnson said at a conference in Washington about countering violent extremism.

Those who don't know history "are bound to repeat it," Johnson added.

Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have both made statements hostile to Muslims.

Trump has called for a temporarily ban on Muslims entering the United States, in addition to saying that "Islam hates us".

Meanwhile, Cruz has called for allowing law enforcement to "patrol and secure" Muslim neighborhoods.

The Obama administration slammed those remarks, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling them "an embarrassment to our country."

US officials have stressed that both candidates' views run counter to government efforts to build bridges with Muslim communities and prevent radicalisation.

"The overwhelming, overwhelming majority of American Muslims...are patriotic, dedicated people who love this country and want to help us in public safety, and secure our homeland because they know it's their homeland too," Johnson said.

Agencies contributed to this report