WASHINGTON: Republican US presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Sunday refused to take back claims he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey after the September 11, 2001 attacks, despite a lack of proof.
The brash real-estate tycoon has drawn sweeping condemnation after saying earlier this month that Arab and Muslim Americans had publicly rejoiced the unprecedented terror attacks on the United States.
“It was 14 years ago but I saw it on television, I saw clips and so did many other people,” Trump told NBC´s “Meet the Press” talk show.
“I´ve had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump organization saying, ´We saw it. It was dancing in the streets.´”
Within days of 9/11, police, fact-checkers and US media debunked the rumors that people were cheering from rooftops of Jersey City, across the river from Manhattan.
Still, Trump stood by his comments Sunday: “I saw it. So many people saw it… And so why would I take it back? I´m not going to take it back.”
Trump has cited an article written by The Washington Post at the time saying authorities detained “a number” of people supposedly seen cheering in New Jersey.
But there was no indication in the article of thousands or even hundreds of Muslims cheering.
Trump told “Meet the Press” that “we´re looking for other articles and we´re looking for other clips and I wouldn´t be surprised if we found them,” he said.
“But for some reason they´re not that easy to come by.”