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In the wake of the terror attacks in Belgium — carried out in a series of coordinated bombings across Brussels Tuesday morning — the global community has banded together to denounce the acts of extremists who irresponsibly use religion to justify gross acts of terror.

The Islamic State reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack that took the lives of 31 and injured another 270. Officials have identified two suspects — brothers Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29, and Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27 — as the individuals who detonated suicide bombs in separate incidents at the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek subway station.

While Belgium remains in a state of mourning, politicians in the U.S. are taking the tragic incident as an opportunity to further their political aspirations, bring in numbers at the polls, and turn a moment of solidarity into division with targeted fear-mongering.

But the most fearful part of it all is the fact that the politicians pushing that agenda are U.S. presidential candidates. Through statements and a number of interviews the day of the attacks, both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump took to the airways and the media to push their own counter-terrorism tactics while slamming President Obama, who, at the time was in Cuba in an effort to strengthen relations with the siloed island.

Here are just some examples of the horrifying things the two candidates have said in the wake of the attack that prove they are using the tragedy as political gain…or as a continuation of their xenophobic rhetoric.

Ted Cruz Wants A Police State In Muslim Neighborhoods

In a statement released right after the Brussels attacks, Ted Cruz called on U.S. law enforcement to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in our own nation.

“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” he said.

At a news conference, Cruz also laid out his plan to “vet” Syrian Muslims before they travel within U.S. borders.

“We need a commander in chief who does everything necessary to defeat the enemy, and we need to immediately halt the president’s ill-advised plan to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees,” Cruz said. “Our vetting programs are woefully insufficient. This administration has no means of preventing those refugees from being ISIS terrorists.”

“This is war. This is not an isolated incident. This is not a lone wolf.”

On Wednesday, Cruz defended his comments, which were condemned by President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance,” said President Obama, commenting in Argentina after his visit to Cuba. “Which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America.”

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, said the policing comment was offensive and dangerous. Trump, whose game has largely included lauding around his idea to ban Muslims from the U.S., agreed that surveillance should be bumped up in Muslim neighborhoods.

Donald Trump Would Waterboard The Suspects

In an interview with Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, Donald Trump backed waterboarding terrorism suspects.

“Frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws or had the laws, waterboarding would be fine,” Trump said. “If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people.”

The tactic, deemed as torture by critics, was banned by Obama in 2009. But it’s Trump’s vow to “do a lot more” that carries so much uncertainty and malice.

Trump Wants To Close The Borders

This is nothing new. Since announcing his bid for presidency, Trump has pushed his way past his rivals by leaning hard on his xenophobia and ability to say what others won’t. He’s known for his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and immigrants, women, and people of color.

During the same interview in which he condoned waterboarding, the presidential hopeful said he’d “close up our borders until we figure out what’s going on,” in response to his plan of action if he were president.

“As president … I would be very, very tough on the borders, and I would be not allowing certain people to come into this country without absolute perfect documentation.”

“We have to be smart in the United States,” Trump said. “We’re taking in people without real documentation. We don’t know where they are coming from, we don’t know where they’re from, who they are… they could be ISIS, they could be ISIS related.”

Interestingly enough, this is the same language he used when he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. months ago, as originally reported by NewsOne.com:

The statement, which Trump posted following a tweet that called out what he believes to be the “extraordinary influx of hatred and danger coming into our country” — states the ban should be in place until “our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.”

It seems as if the candidate has nothing new to say in addition to the fact that he’s completely ignored the numbers. From Think Progress:

Despite what Trump says, Department of Homeland Security officials have repeatedly maintained there’s no credible evidence that members of ISIS or other known terrorists have entered or plan to enter the United States by land at the southern U.S. border. And out of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the country since September 11, 2001, not a single one has been arrested in connection with a credible plot to attack the United States.

Cruz Slams Obama

Instead of denouncing the acts of terrorists and using it as an opportunity to bring together factions of the country, Sen. Cruz decided to blast the president for remaining in Cuba after the Brussels attack.

“President Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe. Or president Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels,” Cruz said during a press conference.

“While our friend and allies were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros and standing at a press conference with Raul Castro as a prop while Castro denies there are any political prisoners in Cuba,” Cruz said.

Not even tragedy can trump partisanship.

Donald Trump Kicks Brussels While They’re Down

In an interview Tuesday, Trump said this about the capital city:

“Brussels is a total mess. They’re just a city that used to be one of the finest and one of the most beautiful and one of the safest cities in the world, and now it’s a catastrophic, very dangerous city where the police have very little control.”

Trump’s argument? Muslim immigration is to blame. But his expected xenophobia aside, the language he’s used to address a nation that has just experienced a terrorist attack is troubling.

And dangerous.

SOURCE: USA TodayThink Progress, ABC News, Reuters | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter

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