Dubai: If you’re a bigot, redneck or white supremacist voter in the US right now, you gotta love Donald Trump.
But it you’re a Muslim, an immigrant, a Mexican or black, be afraid — be very afraid.
In his latest racist diatribe Trump, the Republican frontrunner for his party’s nomination to run for the White House in just 11 months’ time, wants a “total and complete shutdown” of borders to Muslims wanting to visit America.
“We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on,” Trump told a rally in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday night.
His candour prompted a huge roar in the crown gathered on the former Second World war-era aircraft carrier Yorkton — a location carefully chosen for an address that fell on the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour.
He said there was such hatred among Muslims around the world towards Americans that it was necessary to rebuff them en masse, until the problem was better understood.
“I wrote something today that was very salient, very important,” Trump said, adding that it was “probably not politically correct”. Then, as the crowd hung on his every word, he lowered his voice to an intimate whisper, leant into the microphone, and said: “But. I. Don’t. Care.”
Has he gone too far this time?
Even former vice-president Dick Cheney, a hawk who masterminded the US “war on terror”, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, approved CIA torture and interrogation techniques, and set up the offshore prison gulag in Guantanamo Bay, was disgusted by Trump’s comments.
The idea “goes against everything we stand for and believe in” Cheney tweeted.
An unapologetic Trump said: “We have no idea who’s coming into this country. We have no idea if they love us or hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us. By the way, I have friends who are Muslims. They are great people. But they know we have a problem because something is going on, and we can’t put up with it, folks, we can’t put up with it.”
To justify his extreme call to bar Muslims, Trump says he polling data that underlined what he said was the violent hatred of followers of the faith towards Americans.
“Sharia authorises such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women,” he said.
He has also refused to rule out creating a government database of all American Muslims.
Egypt’s Dar Al Iftaa, which each year issues tens of thousands of edicts that carry influence but not the force of law, denounced Trump’s latest statement.
“This hostile vision towards Islam and Muslims will increase the tension within American society,” it said.
“It is unfair to sanction all Muslims because of a group of extremists... we can’t accuse one religion or one country of being a source of extremism and terrorism.”
Urging Americans to reject Trump’s call, Dar Al Iftaa said his proposal “will lead to conflict... and increase hate, which will be a threat to social peace in the United States. This will give a chance to extremists from all parties to realise their criminal aims”.
Muslims worldwide acted with outrage to Trump’s latest comments.
“Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution?” Ebrahim Hooper the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations tweeted.
A quarter of all Muslims, Trump said, believe that violence against Americans is justified.
When the rally was disrupted on five separate occasions by hecklers shouting “Black lives matter”, the throng of Trump supporters erupted. “Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!” they chanted in an attempt to drown out the protesters.
When that didn’t work they went for: “USA! USA! USA! USA!”
When Trump first burst on to the scene in the early summer, he was widely dismissed as a has-been reality TV star who would before long be subsumed — “You’re fired!” — by the Republican establishment. Then he started talking about rapist Mexicans, pledging to deport 11 million undocumented Hispanics, and refusing to rule out a government database of all American Muslims.
He has now been consistently in the lead in opinion polls, ahead of all his Republican rivals, every day bar just a few since 20 July. The first-in-the-nation nomination contest in Iowa is eight weeks away.
— With inputs from agencies