Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addresses an audience Monday, March 21. | AP Photo

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday sharply criticized rhetoric about Muslims from both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, slamming both Republican candidates for their “counterproductive” and “inflammatory” comments.

Cruz, who last week called for increased patrolling of Muslim neighborhoods, has already stoked the ire of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, with the two public figures trading opinion pieces and television hits criticizing the other.

Asked about Cruz’s Monday op-ed in the New York Daily News in which he wrote that “we cannot fight and win without identifying and confronting the enemy,” that being radical Islamic terrorism, Johnson told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that while he agreed with the Texas senator’s broad sentiment, he strongly disagreed with the means to accomplish that.

“We’ve spent a lot of time building bridges to American Muslim communities as you know because the Islamic State is targeting those communities to carry out attacks, to conduct attacks in the homeland,” Johnson said. “So we spent a lot of time working with Muslim communities, American Muslim communities, and they’re not a monolith; there are many of them across the country, to help them help us in our homeland security efforts.”

At this juncture, Johnson added, “it is critical that we build bridges to American Muslim communities, not vilify them, not drive them into the shadows and encourage them to work with us.”

“I believe that inflammatory comments about, like patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods or barring Muslims from entering this country,” he said, referring to Trump’s repeated calls, “having an immigration policy based on religion is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests.”