Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a “total and complete shutdown” on all Muslims entering the United States.
Speaking at a rally in South Carolina, Mr Trump warned of more September 11-style attacks if stern measures were not taken, adding that: “We have no choice”.
In an earlier statement, Mr Trump said polling showed a “hatred” by Muslims toward Americans that could result in more attacks.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension,” he said.
“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 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, asked in an email if the shutdown would apply specifically to immigration or more broadly to student visas, tourists and other travellers to the US, replied: “Everyone.”
Mr Trump went further than other Republican candidates, who have called for president Barack Obama to suspend plans to offer sanctuary to as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war.
Mr Trump’s statement drew sweeping condemnation by presidential rivals and the White House, which denounced his call as “totally contrary” to US values.
“We have in our Bill of Rights respect for the freedom of religion,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN.
“It’s also contrary to our security,” Mr Rhodes added, explaining Islamic State militants were trying to cast the US as being at war with Islam.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told MSNBC that Mr Trump was, “seeking to tap into a darker side, a darker element, and try to play on people’s fears in order to build support for his campaign”.
“This is outrageous coming from someone who wants to assume the highest office in the land,” Mr Awad said.
“It is reckless and simply un-American. Donald Trump sounds more like a leader of a lynch mob than a great nation like ours.”
Mr Trump has been increasingly virulent in his remarks targeting Muslim Americans since the deadly Paris attacks, and again in the wake of last week’s shooting rampage in California, which left 14 dead and 21 wounded.
Last month, he caused a furore when he claimed he saw “thousands and thousands of people” cheering in parts of New Jersey with substantial Arab-American populations as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001.
‘This is The Worst Kind of Bigotry Mixed With Ignorance’
His announcement unleashed severe condemnation on Twitter, including from other Republicans running for president.
“Donald Trump is unhinged,” former Florida governor Jeb Bush tweeted.
“His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton tweeted that Trump’s idea was “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive”.
Some Muslims dismissed Mr Trump as a bigot who promoted violence.
“It’s so absurd a statement that I don’t even wish to react to it,” said Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent human rights lawyers.
“This is the worst kind of bigotry mixed with ignorance.”
The head of Pakistan’s biggest council of Muslim clerics, the Ulema Council, said Mr Trump’s comments promoted violence.
“If some Muslim leader says there is a war between Christians and Muslims, we condemn him,” Tahir Ashrafi said.
“So why should we not condemn an American if he says that?
“Islamic State (IS) is a problem of Syria, not religion.
“If you solve the Syria issue, 75 per cent of the IS problem will be solved.”
Carson Says People Visiting US Should Be Monitored
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential hopeful, said everyone visiting the US should register and be monitored while in the country.
“Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries,” spokesman Doug Watts said.
“We do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.”
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