US President Barack Obama has slammed White House hopeful Donald Trump’s renewed call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, as last weekend’s gay nightclub massacre in Orlando continues to make waves in the presidential campaign.
“We have gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear and we have come to regret it,” Obama said in Washington on Tuesday, after a meeting of the National Security Council.
“This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here.”
He added that: “If we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalise people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect.”
The president, without mentioning Trump by name, also dismissed the Republican’s criticism of Obama for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe ISIL militants. Obama called the phrase a political distraction.
Obama reiterated that there is no indication a foreign terrorist group directed Sunday morning’s massacre but said the killer appears to have become radicalised online, describing him as “angry, disturbed and unstable”.
On Thursday, Obama will travel to Orlando to honour the 49 people slaughtered and more than 50 others injured.