Donald Trump took his plan for tightening the nation’s borders to a new level Monday — and drew condemnation from Republican opponents as well as Democrats — by calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The ban should apply “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” with regard to the attitudes of Muslims toward Americans and terrorism, said a statement from the Trump campaign.
“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,” the statement quoted Trump as saying.
Trump read the press release announcing the Muslim immigration proposal at a standing-room-only rally aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C. Much of the crowd gave the policy a 24-second standing ovation.
“This is pretty heavy stuff. And it’s common sense, and we have to do it,” Trump said. “These are people who are here, by the way,” he said, mentioning the poll he had cited to support his insistence that many Muslims support violence against Americans.
“These are people who only believe in jihad,” Trump said. “They have no respect for human life.”
“Send them all home!” several in the crowd shouted. A protester, one of around 10 removed during the event, called the proposal “racist”
In an earlier interview on Fox News, Trump said his proposal “does not apply to people living in this country, but we have to be vigilant.”
Trump’s call, less than a week after the California shootings by a Muslim couple who appear to have been radicalized, quickly drew criticism from members of both parties, including his opponents in upcoming Republican presidential primaries.
“That’s a ridiculous position and one that won’t even be productive,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump “is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”
Donald Trump is unhinged. His “policy” proposals are not serious.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 7, 2015
Asked about his Republican critics in the Fox News interview, Trump said they trail him in the polls; he also said that many of his rivals for the nomination would come around to his idea in the long run. Democratic presidential front-runner HIllary Clinton also blasted Trump’s plan on Twitter, calling it “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive.”
“This makes us less safe,” she added.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized Trump’s remarks as unconstitutional and un-American. “It seems that Donald Trump is now channeling the worst of the worst of the Islamaphobia industry in the United States,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper also said there is a “toxic anti-Muslim environment” in the country since the attacks, and Trump may benefit politically from his proposal.
“That’s the most frightening part,” Hooper said.
Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration came the same day that a new poll showed him falling behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa, which opens the nomination process with caucuses on Feb. 1. Asked about Trump’s plan, Cruz told reporters “that’s not my policy,” and said that he wants to keep the focus on “radical Islamic terrorism.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, tweeted that Trump is “putting at risk the lives of interpreters, American supporters, diplomats, & the troops in the region by making these bigoted comments.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich described Trump’s proposal as “more of the outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath and another reason why he is entirely unsuited” for the presidency.
The campaign of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said in a statement it does not agree with Trump on the Muslim issue, but everyone visiting the United States “should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries. We do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Trump’s “habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.”
I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 8, 2015
Democratic critics said the leading Republican presidential candidate is brazenly appealing to people’s fears, and unfairly targeting all Muslims for the actions of a few. “It’s un-American for the presidential frontrunner of the Republican Party to call for a complete shutdown of Muslims not just immigrating but simply entering the United States,” said Jessica Mackler, president of the Democratic political action group American Bridge 21st Century. A Democratic presidential candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said that “demagogues throughout our history have attempted to divide us based on race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin. Now, Trump and others want us to hate all Muslims.” Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said Trump had made clear with his latest plan that he was running “as a fascist demagogue.”
In a statement emailed to reporters, the Trump campaign cited what it described as polling data showing “there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population,” and that many Muslims believe in Shariah Law.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension,” Trump said. “Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine.”
Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told CNN that Trump’s proposal could undermine U.S. security by enabling the Islamic State and other terrorist groups to cast their activities as responses to a U.S. war on the religion of Islam Rhodes added that .”we have, in our Bill of Rights, respect for the freedom of religion.”
The Islamic State, the militant group that controls large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq, perpetrated the Nov. 13 terrorists attacks in Paris, the event that pushed national security to the forefront of the campaign. The shooters in last week’s mass killing in San Bernardino, Calif., are believed to have been followers of the group.
Trump has been particularly vocal since those attacks and has questioned Muslim attitudes toward the United States.
Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, tweeted that “Trump has entered John Birch Society/Pat Buchanan territory,” and it is “important to save conservatism from him.”
Other Republican presidential candidates “will denounce this,” Kristol said in another tweet, but “will they also say they couldn’t support him if somehow he becomes nominee?”