US presidential candidate Donald Trump has faced huge criticism after proposing a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the US. The White House said he had "disqualified" himself from the presidential race.
Critics were quick to point out on Tuesday that Trump's plan would be unconstitutional and almost certainly fail any court challenge. The Republican also failed to clarify whether his proposal would affect tourists as well as immigrants, or whether it would target American Muslims currently abroad.
Responding to Trump's comments, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said his proposals were "unconstitutional" and challenged the mogul's fellow Republicans to denounce him.
Earnest continued his criticism with a personal attack on Trump, describing the 69-year-old as a "carnival barker" with "fake hair."
"What Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president," concluded Earnest, adding that his remarks were "offensive" and "toxic."
'Complete and utter nonsense'
Across the pond in London, the mayor of the UK capital, Boris Johnson, also rebuked Trump's comments.
During his speech on Monday, Trump told MSNBC that some parts of London "are so radicalized that the police are afraid for their own lives."
Johnson responded on Tuesday saying Trump's "ill-informed comments" were "complete and utter nonsense."
The Conservative MP added that the only reason he wouldn't go to some parts of New York "is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump."
British Prime Minister David Cameron also said he "completely disagreed" with Trump's remarks, which his spokeswoman described as "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong."
'Playing into the hands of IS'
Muslims around the world also criticized Trump, with many warning that his proposal could play into the hands of extremist groups such as the "Islamic State" (IS) and aid them in finding recruits.
"We must also blame our media and religious leaders for not preventing extremist thought from expanding. That is their role and they are not taking it as seriously as they should," Ahmed Yousri, a 23-year-old banker in Cairo, told AP news agency.
"What Trump is doing is giving IS a more legitimate cause for its existence. It will justify their acts and help them recruit people," he added.
US press reacts
Trump's comments dominated the front pages in the US on Tuesday, including some particularly critical photo splashes. The "Philadelphia Daily News" printed a picture of Trump raising his right arm with the headline "The new furor."
Social media users responded to Trump's proposal by launching hash tags such as #TrumpisnotmyAmerica and #DontVoteTrump.
After some users began comparing Trump to Voldemort, an evil fictional character from J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter series, the British author joined the debate herself, tweeting: "How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad."
Alarm from US Muslims
Most US Muslims have arrived in the US in recent decades, making them a relatively new immigrant group. Many say they are watching the billionaire real estate mogul, turned-reality TV star, turned-rising political star, with alarm.
Numbers from Pew Research Center in 2011 estimated there were 2.75 million Muslims in the US, although community leaders say the number is at least six million strong, likely higher.
ksb/jr (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)