All Muslims living in the United States might be forced to register their personal information in a federal database if Donald Trump is elected president.
On Thursday night, the billionaire Republican presidential candidate told an NBC reporter that all American Muslims “have to be” required to registered in a database in the wake of deadly terror attacks in Paris and Beirut. The attacks were carried out by ISIS, a group that proclaims itself to be Islamic — though many Muslims and religious scholars disagree that the group can be credibly considered part of the religion.
“I would certainly implement that — absolutely,” Trump said when asked about forcing registration of the 5 million to 12 million Muslims living in America.
Though he backed the idea of registering Muslims in a federal database, the Washington Post pointed out that Trump has historically opposed the idea of a federal gun owner database. He has opposed the database on the grounds that “lawful gun owners will have their privacy invaded and will place information in the hands of government officials that could be easily abused.”
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 20, 2015
On Thursday, Trump was unable to say how his Muslim registry would be different from the Nazi Germany policy of forcing Jews to register in a database. From the New York Times:
When asked how a system of registering Muslims would be carried out — whether, for instance, mosques would be where people could register — Mr. Trump said: “Different places. You sign up at different places. But it’s all about management. Our country has no management.’’
Asked later, as he signed autographs, how such a database would be different from Jews having to register in Nazi Germany, Mr. Trump repeatedly said, “You tell me,” until he stopped responding to the question.
The question about databases was spurred by an interview Trump did with Yahoo News, where the candidate said he wouldn’t rule out putting Muslims in a database. Trump also said he would “strongly consider” shutting down U.S. mosques in the wake of the attacks.
“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” he said. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
Trump’s remarks drew strong rebuke from many on social media, and even from within the Republican presidential field. On Friday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Trump’s idea to register Muslims was “just wrong,” and accused his rival of “manipulating people’s angst and their fears.”
“That’s not strength. That’s weakness,” Bush said.
Though shutting down mosques would be objectively extreme, recent polling has shown the idea is resonating with some Republicans. On Thursday, Public Policy Polling found that 27 percent of Republican primary voters support that the idea of shutting down all mosques in the U.S. Just 38 percent said they opposed the idea, and 35 percent were unsure.