WASHINGTON: The leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Monday that it would be OK to profile Muslims in America as not doing so caused the deaths of 14 people in San Bernardino last week.

Mr Trump’s remarks underscore the need for peace and unity that President Barack Obama appealed for in his Sunday night speech, warning that not doing so would harm both America and Muslims.

But Mr Trump rejected the suggestion, claiming that this attitude of “political correctness” allowed San Bernardino shooters to kill innocent people.

He said that neighbours of the California shooters – Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook – were suspicious but “were not wanting to call because they thought it would be inappropriate”.

The Republican frontrunner said in a television show that the neighbours had thought calling police would be seen as profiling. “Can you believe this? …Everybody wants to be politically correct. And that’s part of the problem that we have with our country,” he said.

“Should there be profiling?” asked the host. “Well, I think there can be profiling,” Mr Trump replied. “I want vigilance, I want real vigilance, and whether it’s mosques or whatever it has to be, but a lot of bad things are happening,” he said.

Mr Trump also suggested tracking Muslims in America.

“We are having a problem with radicals in the Muslim group. Let’s not kid ourselves,” he said.

“If you have people coming out of mosques with hatred and with death in their eyes and on their minds, we’re going to have to do something.”

Asked to explain his suggestion for tracking Muslims in America, Mr Trump said: ”You have people that have to be tracked. If they’re Muslims, they’re Muslims. But you have people that have to be tracked.”

When the host reminded him that there were three million Muslims in America, Mr Trump said: “Look, we are having a tremendous problem with radical Islamic terrorism.”

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2015