The debate over whether to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the United States took a dark twist after a leading presidential candidate likened those fleeing the violence in the Middle East to “rabid dogs”.
Republican Ben Carson told a campaign event in Mobile, Alabama, that allowing Syrian migrants into the US could put Americans at risk.
“If there is a rabid dog running around your neighbourhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog,” he said on Thursday, adding, ““By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly.”
Carson also said that the Islamic State is more of a threat to America now than Al Qaeda was following the 9/11 attacks.
And he said pulling off the 9/11 attacks “really didn’t require a great deal of sophistication”.
“You didn’t have to be all that great. You had to be able to fly some planes and get a couple people in here. That's going to be a lot more difficult to do now,” he said.
Carson later praised the House for passing a bill that could limit the intake of Syrian refugees, calling it a positive step.
The US is deeply debating over whether or not to permit the entry of refugees fleeing Syria, which has suffered from the violence of more than four years of civil war.
US President Barack Obama has said he wants to admit 10,000 refugees within a year, after close vetting. However, governors of more than 30 states have said they do not want refugees from Syria and will do all they can to block them.