New York, US (BBN)-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a halt to Muslims entering the US, in the wake of the deadly California shootings.
In a campaign statement, he said a “total and complete” shutdown should remain until the US authorities “can figure out” Muslim attitudes to the US, reports BBC.
At a rally in South Carolina hours later, frontrunner Trump repeated the pledge, to loud cheers.
Criticism from the White House and other Republicans was swift.
Trump’s comments were contrary to US values and its national security interests, a statement from the White House said.
Republican Jeb Bush, also running for president, said the New York businessman was “unhinged”.
Trump’s statement was delivered as the US comes to term with its deadliest terror attack since 9/11.
Last week a Muslim couple, believed to have been radicalised, opened fire and killed 14 people at a health centre in San Bernardino.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama made a rare Oval Office address in response to the attack and warned against the US falling prey to divisiveness.
Trump’s statement to reporters on Monday said polling by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think-tank, indicated that 25 per cent of Muslims in the US believed violence against America was justified.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine.
“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.”
Out on a limb – how other 2016 hopefuls reacted
“ridiculous position” – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
“dangerous overreaction” – businesswoman Carly Fiorina
“offensive and outlandish” – Florida Senator Marco Rubio
“unhinged” – ex-Florida Governor Jeb Bush
“outrageous divisiveness” – Ohio Governor John Kasich
“downright dangerous” – S Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham
“not my policy” – Texas Senator Ted Cruz
“a fascist demagogue” – ex-Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley
“reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive” – Hillary Clinton
“demagogue” – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders