Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for a total ban on Muslims entering the country for an indefinite period of time. The statement was widely denounced by political rivals, religious groups and law experts. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States for an indefinite period of time -- an announcement that drew widespread criticism from both political parties, religious groups and law experts.
Trump released the statement Monday on his website, 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."
Trump declared in September "I love the Muslims," but Monday's statement puts the real estate mogul and TV star in closer association with hate groups. Trumps GOP rivals, Democratic candidates and Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups were all quick to denounce his statement.
The call for a ban is also the latest in a campaign by Trump that began shortly after the Paris attacks when he called for a database to track all Muslims in the United States. It was followed by a widely discredited claim that he saw thousands of Muslims celebrating on 9/11 in New Jersey.
"It is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension," Trump added, stoking fear on Monday's 74th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.
Trump's political opponents reacted harshly to his remarks -- perhaps none more than South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"Donald Trump, with this recent statement, has taken xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level," Graham said. "Statements like this empower the enemy, and make it difficult for our soldiers and diplomats to operate throughout the Muslim world. His antics and bombastic behavior are literally putting American lives at risk around the world. And statements like this would mean a death sentence to our interpreters and others who have helped the American military in our struggle against radical Islam."
Other candidates took to Twitter to denounce the statement.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush called Trump "unhinged." Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the statement was "offensive and outlandish."
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the idea "reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive." Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, a long shot for the Democratic nomination, declared Trump "a fascist demagogue."
The executive director of Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Jack Moline, mocked Trump's statement by referencing his presidential campaign's slogan.
"Rooting our nation's immigration policy in religious bigotry and discrimination will not make America great again," he said.
Some immigration experts called Trump's statement anti-American.
"This is so antithetical to the history of the United States," Nancy Morawetz, an immigration law professor at New York University, said. "I cannot recall any historical precedent for denying immigration based on religion."