Washington: US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Islam of hating the western world.
Trump had previously called for a ban on Muslims entering the US.
“I think Islam hates us,” Trump told Anderson Cooper on CNN, after the host asked him whether Islam was at war with the West.
“There is a tremendous hatred there. We have to get to the bottom of it.”
When asked whether Trump believed the hatred was in the Islamic religion itself, he replied: “You’re going to have to figure that out. You’ll get another Pulitzer.”
“We can’t allow people who have this hatred coming into the United States and of people who are not Muslim.”
The Republican presidential front-runner further said that “it’s very hard to separate” radical Islam from the mainstream practice of the religion.
“It’s very hard to define,” he said. “Because you don’t know who’s who.”
His comments have drawn criticism from his rivals.
Trump's rivals, US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, said the United States needs to maintain good relations with Muslim countries in the Middle East to help in the fight against Islamic State militants.
"We are going to have to work with people in the Muslim faith even as Islam faces a serious crisis within it," Rubio said.
Kasich, looking to win his home state of Ohio on Tuesday in order to keep his candidacy going, said Middle Eastern allies in the Arab world are essential.
"The fact is if we're going to defeat ISIS, we're going to have to have those countries," he said, citing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
Trump said he would consider as many as 40,000 US troops on the ground in the region to help defeat Islamic State, saying he would complete the mission quickly and bring them home to focus on rebuilding the United States.
The CNN-hosted debate took place at a crucial time, days before primary votes in Florida and Ohio that could catapult Trump even further despite an intense anti-Trump movement by establishment Republicans who are trying to deny him the party's presidential nomination.