Donald Trump Remains Defiant over 'Ban Muslims from the US' Plan
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Republican presidential candidate front-runner Donald Trump re-affirmed his provocative call to ban Muslims from the United States.
During a debate on Tuesday in which the other candidates pushed their own plans for combating the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Mr Trump defended his controversial proposal, claiming it was not an attempt to discriminate against Muslims.
"We are not talking about isolation, we're talking about security. We are not talking about religion, we are talking about security," he said, ITV News reported.
The billionaire also said he would be open to closing "parts of the internet" used by ISIL.
He suggested that he may remove some refugees the Barack Obama adminstration had already allowed in the US.
Speaking to ITV News after the debate, Mr Trump said he would be a "very popular president" and that he didn't worry about any offense his comments may have caused around the world.
"I think I'm going to bring unity to the world." He said.
But the other Republicans were quick to distance themselves from Trump's remarks, with Jeb Bush taking the strongest line against the plans.
"Look, this is not a serious proposal. In fact, it will push the Muslim world, the Arab world away from us at a time when we need to reengage with them to be able to create a strategy to destroy ISIS," Bush said, using an alternative acronym for ISIL.
"So Donald, you know, is great at the one-liners, but he's a chaos candidate. And he'd be a chaos president. He would not be the commander in chief we need to keep our country safe," he added.
Trump is facing a new challenge from Texas senator Ted Cruz, who has been rising in polls, particularly in Iowa, which holds its lead-off caucuses on 1 February.
But Mr Cruz and Florida senator Marco Rubio said they understood why Mr Trump had raised the idea and avoided criticising the front-runner directly.
Mr Cruz said a more narrowly-focused approach would more effectively target ISIL militants. "It's not a war on a faith," he said.
Mr Rubio said of Mr Trump's proposal, "It isn't going to happen."