8th December, 2015
A senior White House aide on Monday branded Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States as “totally contrary to our values as Americans.”
“We have, in our Bill of Rights, respect for the freedom of religion,” one of President Barack Obama’s top foreign policy aides, Ben Rhodes, told CNN.
“The fact of the matter is ISIL wants to frame this as a war between the United States and Islam, and if we look like we’re applying religious tests to who comes into this country, we’re sending a message that essentially we’re embracing that frame and that is going to make it very difficult to partner with Muslim communities here in the United States and around the world to prevent the scourge of radicalization that we should be focused on.”
Earlier, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called on Monday for barring all Muslims from entering the United States.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” a campaign press release said.
Trump, who has previously called for surveillance against mosques and said he was open to establishing a database for all Muslims living in the U.S., made his latest controversial call in a news release. His message comes in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by suspected ISIS sympathizers and the day after President Barack Obama asked the country not to “turn against one another” out of fear.
Trump’s comments are likely to roil the Republican presidential race, forcing many of his opponents for the nomination to engage in a debate over whether there should be a religious test to enter America.
But his proposal was met with enthusiasm by many of his supporters, who showed their approval via social media as well as at his rally on Monday night.
“I think that we should definitely disallow any Muslims from coming in. Any of them. The reason is simple: we can’t identify what their attitude is,” said 75-year-old Charlie Marzka of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Moreover, the Muslim travel ban will likely do little to dent Trump’s own popularity among Republican primary voters. The billionaire businessman has dominated the GOP contest for months despite repeated controversies that would likely sink other White House hopefuls.
“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,” Trump said in a statement. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
Trump’s campaign added in the release that such a ban should remain in effect “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
The release pointed to an online poll from the controversial Center for Security Policy, which claimed that a quarter of Muslims living in the U.S. believe violence against Americans is justified as part of a global jihadist campaign. Critics have questioned the reliability of the organization’s information. It also pointed to a Pew Research poll, which the campaign declined to identify, which the campaign claimed points to “great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN on Monday that the ban would apply not just to Muslim foreigners looking to immigrate to the U.S., but also to Muslims looking to visit the U.S. as tourists.
“Everyone,” Lewandowski said when asked if the ban would also apply to Muslim tourists.
“Great surveillance and vigilance must be adhered to,” said Trump in an additional statement Lewandowski provided to CNN. “We want to be very fair but too many bad things are happening and the percentage of true hatred is too great. People that are looking to destroy our country must be reported and turned in by the good people who love our country and want America to be great again.”
Trump confirmed that his policy would not apply to current Muslims in the U.S. during a Fox News interview on Monday evening.
“I have Muslim friends, Greta, and they’re wonderful people. But there’s a tremendous section and cross-section of Muslims living in our country who have tremendous animosity,” he told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren. “It does not apply to people living in the country, except we have to be vigilant.”