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Americas

France joins international condemnation of Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric

media United States Republican candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail in Spencer, Iowa, 5 decembre 2015. Reuters/Mark Kauzlarich

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 justifed 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 radicalised, where police are afraid to go. He made a similar statement about London.

130 people died in a series of co-ordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers who targeted Paris cafés, bars, a concert hall and the national stadium.

"Nobody had weapons except the bad guys"

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 capitalised on fears of Muslims, terrorism and immigration to attract voters who are increasingly frustrated with the campaign promises of the traditional two-party system.

Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen revokes Trump's honorary degree

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.

"Reckless and un-American"

Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations 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 stigmatisation, 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 practise,” he said, drawing a standing ovation.

Here are how other people are reacting:

  • In Geneva, Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, on Tuesday said Trump was speaking of “an entire population” but that his remarks particularly affect refugees. "We are concerned that the rhetoric that is being used in the election campaign is putting an incredibly important resettlement program at risk that is meant for the most vulnerable people — the victims of the wars that the world is unable to stop.”
  • In the United States, three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali hit out against Islamic extremists and Donald Trump’s plan in a statement on Wednesday.
    “I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” wrote 73-year-old Ali. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion. ”The Louisville-born boxer, who converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, called on Muslims to “stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda”. “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody” he added.
  • One of the Middle East's largest retail firms The Landmark Group, based in Dubai has said it is withdrawing Donald Trump products from its shelves after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the US. The company has an exclusive deal to sell Trump Home products including lighting, mirrors and jewellery boxes in their Lifestyle department stores in Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday condemned Trump’s proposal, as his office confirmed the two would hold a planned meeting at the end of the month during Trump’s visit to Israel. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims,” his office wrote. “The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens.”
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