Washington: Criticising Ted Cruz for his call for surveillance of Muslim neighbourhoods, US President Barack Obama has said it would not help defeat Islamic State and reminded the Republican presidential hopeful that his father had to leave Cuba for America as a result of similar policies.
"As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighbourhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country (Cuba) that engages in that kind of neighbourhood surveillance which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America, the Land of the Free," Obama told reporters on Wednesday in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires where he is on a visit.
He was responding to a question on Cruz's statements in which the Texas Senator called for increased surveillance of Muslim neighbourhoods.
"The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense. It is contrary to who we are and it is not going to help us defeat Islamic State (also known as ISIS or Islamic State)," Obama said.
Obama said one of the great strengths of the US and part of the reason why there has not been more attacks in the country is that America has an extraordinarily successful, patriotic, integrated Muslim-American community.
"They do not feel ghettoised, isolated. Their children are our children's friends, going to the same schools. They are our colleagues in our workplaces. They are our men and women in uniform fighting for our freedom.
"So any approach that would single them out or target them for discrimination is not only wrong and un-American, but it also would be counterproductive, because it would reduce the strength, the antibodies that we have to resist terrorism," he said.
Obama said that he is determined to defeat the Islamic State.
"I have got a lot of things on my plate but my top priority is to defeat Islamic State and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that has been taking place around the world. We see high-profile attacks in Europe, but they are also killing Muslims throughout the Middle East, people who are innocent, people who are guilty only of worshipping Islam in a different way than this organisation.
"They are poisoning the minds of young people everywhere.
Not just in Europe but in the US and undoubtedly in Argentina, people are looking on these websites," Obama said.
"There is no more important item on my agenda than going after them and defeating them. The issue is how do we do it in an intelligent way. And our approach has been continuously to adjust to see what works and what does not.
"What has been working is the airstrikes that we are taking on their leadership, on their infrastructure, on their financial systems. What has been working is special operators partnering with Iraqi security forces and going after leadership networks and couriers, and disrupting the connection between their bases in Raqqa and their bases in Mosul," the US President added.