My Muslim friends think ban idea is fantastic: Donald Trump

  • Agencies
  • Updated: Dec 10, 2015 12:03 IST
Donald Trump is unfazed as ever despite an online petition in UK calling for a ban on him from entering the British nation. REUTERS/Randall Hill (REUTERS)

Donald Trump is unfazed as ever despite an online petition in UK calling for a ban on him from entering the British nation. The petition, which has so far garnered more than 3,60,000 signatures from Britons, was in response to a proposal by the Republican hopeful for the US presidency to stop Muslims from entering the United States.

In an interview with CNN Tonight Trump reportedly said “I’m doing good for the Muslims.. Many Muslim friends of mine are in agreement with me. They say, ‘Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.”

Trump also said his plan had been misrepresented and explained that the immigration ban may not last long. When asked if he is bigoted or Islamophobic, Trump said, “I am the least racist person that you have ever met.”

Earlier this week, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”. His comments followed last week’s deadly shooting spree by a Muslim couple in California. He went on to defend his plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” by comparing it with President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to inter Japanese Americans during World War II.

“This is a president who was highly respected by all,” Trump said on Tuesday. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”

Trump’s campaign has been marked by a pattern of inflammatory statements, dating back to his harsh rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. He has taken a particularly hard line against Muslims in the days since the Paris attacks, advocating enhanced surveillance of mosques over fears of radicalization.

Since the November 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more, a number of Republican presidential contenders have proposed restrictions on Syrian refugees — with several suggesting preference for Christians seeking asylum — and tighter surveillance in the US

But Trump’s proposed ban goes much further, and his Republican rivals were quick to reject the latest provocation from a candidate who has delivered no shortage of them. “Donald Trump is unhinged,” Jeb Bush said via Twitter. “His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”

Despite his controversial rhetoric, Trump has maintained his popularity among many Republican voters, with less than two months to go before the first 2016 primary contests. Many Republicans worry that his rise will damage the party’s chances of winning the White House in November, as Hillary Rodham Clinton consolidates her own front-runner status on the Democratic side.

The Muslim ban announced by Trump on Monday evening drew swift rebukes from abroad. British prime minister David Cameron slammed it as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.” Muslims in the United States and around the world denounced it unconstitutional and offensive.

The front page of the Philadelphia Daily News pictured Trump holding his right hand out as if in a Nazi salute with the headline “The New Furor.” In TV interviews on Tuesday morning on ABC and CNN, Trump was asked about being compared to Hitler.

Trump didn’t back down, saying his proposal is warranted after attacks by Muslim extremists in Paris and last week’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, killed 14.

“We are now at war,” Trump said, adding: “We have a president who doesn’t want to say that.”

Trump’s proposed ban would apply to immigrants and visitors alike, a sweeping prohibition affecting all adherents of a religion practised by more than a billion people worldwide.

Trump announced his plan to cheers and applause at a Monday evening rally in South Carolina.

“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 said in a written statement.

Fellow Republican presidential hopefuls however didn’t back Trump’s stand. John Kasich, the Ohio governor, slammed Trump’s “outrageous divisiveness,” while a more measured Ted Cruz, senator from Texas, who has always been cautious about upsetting Trump’s supporters, said, “Well, that is not my policy.”

Trump’s plan also drew criticism from the heads of the Republican Party in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the first three states to vote in next year’s presidential primaries.

“It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American,” said Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the Republican Party of New Hampshire.

Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski said Trump’s proposed ban would apply to “everybody,” including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country.

In an interview on Fox News, Trump said Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces would “come home” and that his plan would “not apply to people living in the country.”

In the late 1800s, Congress passed legislation broadly aimed at halting Chinese immigration. But, said Leti Volpp, a University of California expert on immigration law, “there is no precedent for a religious litmus test for admitting immigrants into the United States.”

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