Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in a statement released to the media through his presidential campaign team.
To justify the dramatic escalation of his rhetoric on Islam, Trump stated that ‘polling data’ underlined what he said was the violent hatred of followers of the faith toward Americans in reference to the suggestion that 25% of Muslims in the US believed violence against America was justified by the Center for Security Policy.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine.”
However the Centre for Security Policy has precious been labelled ‘extremist’ by various anti-racial hatred groups.
When asked what prompted such a radical suggestion, he simply replied “death”.
Trump’s campaign manager said the ban would apply to “everybody”, including Muslims seeking immigration visas and tourists. However in an interview aired on Fox News, he said he would ease the ban in the case of Muslims serving in the U.S. military and allow them to return home.
His statement was widely condemned and prompted a horrified reaction by his rival Republican presidential candidates and others in his own party. A statement from the White House said that Trump’s comments were contrary to US values and its national security interests.
Rival candidate Jeb Bush labelled Trump “unhinged”, whilst former US Vice-President Dick Cheney stated that it “goes against everything we stand for and believe in”.
While David Cameron said they were “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong”.
“We have no choice but to do this,” the candidate seeking the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race told ABC. “We have people that want to blow up our buildings, our cities. We have figure out what’s going on.”
The Republican front-runner later tweeted: “We must be vigilant!”
Trump’s statement was met with angry responses on the part of prominent Muslim American groups. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the largest such group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said on Twitter: “Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution?”
“Donald Trump sounds more like a leader of a lynch mob than a great nation like ours,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.
However Trump’s proposal was not universally declined. He was met with loud cheers when he repeated his announcement at a South Carolina rally. Six out of eight supporters who spoke to CNN at the South Carolina rally concurred with Trump’s assessment.
Trump responded to the overwhelming wave of criticism by telling a cheering crowd: “I. Don’t. Care.” He claimed that while he knew he was not being “politically correct”, he was leading the “noisy majority”.
“We used to call it the quiet majority, but people are fed up – they are fed up with incompetence, they are fed up with stupid leaders, they are fed up with stupid people,” he said.
Trump’s proposal comes amid heightened security concerns after the recent spate of terrorist attacks and American security has become a key talking point of the campaigns trail for those who wish to succeed Barack Obama in 2016.
The issue has also triggered debate over the current government’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees within the next year. The White House passed legislation that would stop Syrian refugees from entering the US until security officials certify they are not threats. More than half of the nation’s governors have now said they are no longer willing to take in refugees from Syria and Iraq. The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it was concerned that the rhetoric was putting an “incredibly important” resettlement programme for vulnerable Syrian refugees at risk.
Trump has come under fire for controversial statements in the past; he has considered creating a government database of all American Muslims, the deportation of 11 million undocumented Hispanics, potential plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico and has been involved in an ongoing dispute with rival candidates and members of the media over his claim to have seen Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks.
Trump caused further controversy on when he claimed that parts of London were “so radicalised the police are afraid for their lives”. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson responded by saying the “ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense”.
Critics have said Trump’s plan rejects American values by singling out people based on their religion and would also likely be illegal and unconstitutional. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Political commentators note that he has previously resorted to outlandish and headline grabbing statements when his approval ratings have begun to slip and the timing of his recent remarks coincides with the release of a Monmouth poll, placing rival Texan senator Ted Cruz ahead of Trump by 5%.
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