Image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
Image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

The leaders of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles Tuesday denounced Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s call for a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.

“Mr. Trump, by lumping all Muslims in the crosshairs of the terrorism crisis, only hurts the legitimate campaign against Islamist fundamentalism and demeans law-abiding American citizens,” according to a joint statement from Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the center, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean. “Such a policy would only serve to strengthen ISIS recruitment around the world.”

Trump grabbed headlines Monday when he made the call to block Muslim immigration into the United States, responding to President Barack Obama’s speech on efforts to combat terrorism following the deadly attack in San Bernardino.

“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension,” Trump said. “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.”

Although his proposal has earned him praise from supporters, it has also sparked widespread criticism, including from Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Ryan said Trump’s proposal is “not what this party stands for” and “not what this country stands for.”

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Greater Los Angeles Area, said Trump is trying to “create fear and division between Americans.”

“This type of harmful and ‘fascist’ speech should not be tolerated from any individual, let along from a candidate running for the highest office in the land,” Ayloush said. “Though Mr. Trump has the First Amendment right to his bigoted views, this is a time for leadership and building stronger communities, not for xenophobia.”

Angelica Salas, president of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles Action Fund, said Trump’s comments sank him “deeper into a racist and bigoted abyss.”

“His anti-Muslim rhetoric is outrageous, unacceptable and sickening,” she said. “Trump may want to occupy the White House but his hate-mongering will only garner him a place in history’s pit of worst of the worst.”

Trump’s comments were the latest offshoot from Wednesday’s shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, where 14 people were killed and 21 wounded. The perpetrators, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a gun battle with police about seven hours after the shooting.

FBI officials said Monday the couple were “radicalized” and had been for some time.

—Staff and wire reports

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