Donald Trump, the leading US Republican presidential candidate, has criticized President Barack Obama for apologizing to Muslims during his first visit to an American mosque.
At a campaign rally in South Carolina on Friday, the Republican billionaire defended his controversial proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
“Where did they come from?” Trump asked his supporters as he spoke about the November attacks.
“And then President Obama yesterday goes to a mosque and he apologizes,” the candidate said to audible boos. “I mean, what’s going on?”
Republican candidates, with Trump being in the vanguard, have helped fuel unprecedented levels of anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States, accusing the Muslim community of the recent bombings carried out by Daesh (ISIL) affiliates and sympathizers.
During his speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore in Windsor Mill, Maryland, Obama hailed the contributions of Muslim Americans amid a sharp rise in Islamophobia around the country.
The president called on Americans to embrace their “common humanity” and reject the “inexcusable” anti-Islam rhetoric emanating from some presidential candidates.
“We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion. We’ve got to make sure that hate crimes are punished and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld,” Obama stated.
The US president also said that Christians “have to understand” that “an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths.”
Trump, however, reiterated that he believed Christianity is “under siege,” arguing that churches could consolidate their power on politics but were “afraid to lose their tax-exempt status.”
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