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Donald Trump, Marco Rubio Spar Over GOP Attacks On Islam

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 11/03/2016 Christina Wilkie

At the Republican presidential debate in Miami Thursday, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) displayed two opposing views of Muslims around the world.

Trump made news this week after telling CNN that Islam , a religion of more than 1.5 billion people around the world, "hates us."

Trump stuck by his comments on Thursday. "There's tremendous hatred," Trump said.

Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, countered Trump's bellicose anger with the story of Christian missionaries in a majority-Muslim country, whose lives, he said, were being made harder by the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming out of U.S. political figures -- a not-so-subtle reference to Trump.

The missionaries' "safety and security relies upon friendly Muslims that live alongside them," Rubio said, "that may not convert [to Christianity], but will protect them and look out for them." The country, Bangladesh, he said, has become "a hostile environment to operate in, because the news is coming out that in America, leading political figures are saying that America doesn't like Muslims."

Noting that "Radical Islam is a danger in the world," Rubio offered a second example of how Trump's blanket characterization of a huge world religion missed its mark. "I can also tell you that if you go to any national cemetery, especially Arlington [National Cemetery], you'll see crescent moons there," he said, referring to the Islamic symbol that adorns the graves of Muslim service members. "If you go anywhere in the world, you'll see American men and women serving in uniform that are Muslims, and they love America."

Anyone who "is willing to die for this country is someone that loves America," Rubio said, "no matter what their religious background may be."

Trump shot back with a sneering rebuttal, accusing Rubio of being politically correct.  

"Marco talks about consequences, and we've had a lot of consequences, including airplanes flying into the World Trade Center," he said. " I don't want to be so politically correct."

"We have a serious, serious problem of hate," Trump added, involving "large portions of a group of people, [who] want to use very, very harsh means."

Rubio replied that he's not interested in being politically correct, but in being correct, and said Islam "has a major problem on its hands." But "if you look around the world at the challenges we face, we are going to have to work together with Muslims."

Trump then pivoted away from the question of Islam, and blamed all Muslims for the tactics of the so-called Islamic State.

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