Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday the U.S. must not “succumb to Islamophobia” by turning its back on refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria.

Sanders spoke before an enthusiastic crowd of about 7,000 people on the campus of Cleveland State University.

The Vermont senator began his speech by telling the crowd that the time is now to develop a strategy to destroy the Islamic State in the wake of the attacks that killed 129 people in Paris last week. He said a coalition that includes Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries must be created to defeat terrorism.

Sanders said he supports the strategies put forward by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to combat the Islamic State.

He also rejected Republican criticism of the Obama administration’s plan to allow more Syrian refugees into the U.S.

“Now is not the time for demagoguery and fear-mongering,” Sanders said. “What terrorism is about is trying to instill terror and fear into the hearts of people. And we will not let that happen. We will not be terrorized or live in fear.

“During these difficult times, we will not succumb to Islamophobia,” he added. “We will not turn our backs on the refugees.”

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