Currently the front-runner in national polls for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States drew widespread condemnation around the world this week.
In an interview on MSNBC television in the US, the business tycoon justified his proposition saying it was common sense especially in light of the 13 November terror attacks in Paris which were claimed by the Islamic State armed group.
He went on to say that Paris was no longer the same city, that there are parts that are now completely radicalized, where police are afraid to go. He made a similar statement about London.
130 people died in a series of coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers who targeted Paris cafés, bars, a concert hall and the national stadium.
On Saturday 14 November, French daily newspaper Le Parisien published comments by Trump who said he regretted that France had such strict gun control, explaining that this had been a factor in the attacks, drawing parallels to the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo weekly offices, also in Paris.
“Look at Paris, with its gun control laws among the most restrictive in the world, nobody had weapons except the bad guys” he said speaking at a campaign rally in Beaumont, Texas, after respecting one minute of silence for the victims.
“You can say what you like, if people had weapons, if they had the right to bear arms, the situation would have been very, very different.” France’s socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday wrote on Twitter that “Trump, like others, stokes hatred and conflations: our ONLY enemy is radical Islamism.”
His comments came as the country’s far-right Front National party (FN) is poised to gain even more representation around France in runoff regional elections on Sunday.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen has herself capitalized on fears of Muslims, terrorism and immigration to attract voters who are increasingly frustrated with the campaign promises of the traditional two-party system.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Scottish government did not mince words when it came to its reaction to Trump’s statement. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, announced she was withdrawing the U.S. mogul’s membership of GlobalScot, an international business network, with “immediate effect.”
While Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen revoked Trump’s honorary degree awarded in 2010, describing his comments as “wholly incompatible” with its values.
Trump has often made a deal of his Scottish roots reminding us his mother was born in the Hebrides. In fact he chose Aberdeenshire as the location for a controversial £1 billion golfing complex.
Scottish ministers and Scottish National Party MPs then went on to urge Theresa May, the UK home secretary, to consider banning Trump from traveling to the UK.
Meanwhile a petition to bar Trump from Britain is now at well over 380,000 signatures and counting.
Nihad Awad, director of CAIR spoke out on Wednesday, on behalf of Muslims in the United States.
“This is outrageous, coming from someone who wants to assume the highest office in the land…it is reckless and simply un-American. Donald Trump sounds more like a leader of a lynch mob than a great nation like ours. American Muslims are part of the brick and mortar of this great nation. We are first responders, doctors, police, firefighters, members of the armed forces, and we stand today firm, united as Americans against stigmatization, against Islamophobia, against Isis and against terrorism. Donald Trump should not play with the emotions of the misguided few in our nation and prey on the fear and fearmongering. His ideas are not just unconstitutional, they are un-American.”
Many of Trump’s rival Republican candidates have condemned his position. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said such an idea was “un-American.” House Speaker Paul Ryan said a Muslim ban was “not who we are as a party.”
But this does not seem to faze Trump who issued a tweet on Tuesday saying “A new poll indicates that 68% of my supporters would vote for me if I departed the GOP [Grand Old Party – Republican Party] and ran as an independent.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said proposing a Muslim ban “disqualifies” Mr. Trump from the presidency.
For his part, US President Barack Obama also condemned Trump’s message.
Speaking at an event in the US Capitol honoring the anniversary of the constitutional amendment that banned slavery.
“It is important to remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others — regardless of what they look like or where they come from or what their last name is or what faith they practice,” he said, drawing a standing ovation.