Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is calling for Muslim neighborhoods across the United States to be monitored in responses to the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday.

"We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," Cruz said in a statement.

Local Muslims in Houston said they feel targeted by Cruz's words. On the other hand, Cruz supporters say his statement is about reaching out to a community that's been isolated since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said in a statement Tuesday.
"We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said in a statement Tuesday.

As evening prayer begins Tuesday at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, there is greater pause.

"We wholeheartedly condemn the attacks in Brussels," said MJ Khan, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

It's what Cruz said after the attacks that caught many in the American Muslim community off guard.

"First I was just shocked. It's almost beyond belief that a leading candidate for the highest office in the U.S. would say something like this," said Arsalan Safiullah, who's a part of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Houston. "The idea that he was talking about a Muslim neighborhood, we just don't know what that means?"

"In America, we understand that police patrol every neighborhood. The term ‘patrol a neighborhood’ does not equate to raid a neighborhood," said Cruz supporter Vlad Davidiuk.

Cruz supporters say it's about being proactive and building community partnerships with police.

Arsalan Safiullah with the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Houston said he was shocked by Ted Cruz's comments on Tuesday.
Arsalan Safiullah with the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Houston said he was shocked by Ted Cruz's comments on Tuesday.

"Let's get rid of the elements that are causing these problems rather than waiting for problems to show up and criminalize an entire group of people," said Davidiuk.

Muslims in Houston say they fear that’s already happening.

"This is a large part of what I learned about being an American is defend your civil rights—the first amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. Just as an American, it's really concerning the tone it's starting to take," said Safiullah.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who said in the past that there should be a ban against Muslims entering the U.S., said he agrees with Cruz’s plan, calling it a good idea.