THE Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that Christianity is “under siege” from Syrians.
Speaking to crowds of 11,000 at a rally in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Monday, Mr Trump said: “We don’t have to be politically correct about [protecting Christianity]. They’re chopping off heads in Syria. . . Other religions frankly are banding together; we need to band together.”
Also on Monday, MPs in the Commons discussed whether to ban the New York property tycoon from entering the UK, after a public petition in favour of a ban gathered more than 570,000 signatures.
It was launched in December, after Mr Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.
The Labour MP leading the debate, Paul Flynn, warned MPs not to give Mr Trump a “halo of martyrdom” by imposing the ban.
Despite a three-hour discussion, MPs have no authority to refuse Mr Trump entry to the UK for his views. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has the power to do so, but the Home Office said this week that she would use it only if a person’s presence were to be “non-conducive to the public good”, or if he or she sought “to harm our society” and did not “share our basic values”.
Mr Trump did not acknowledge the discussion in the UK in his speech. He did, however, defend his high poll-ratings — which, he said, had improved after the attacks in Paris in November last year (News, 14 November).
The Prime Minister called Mr Trump’s comments on immigration “stupid and wrong”, on Monday, but said that he did not support a ban, because the tycoon would “unite us all against him” if he visited the UK.
Commenting on immigration, Mr Cameron said that the “passive tolerance” of separate communities — particularly the “social isolation” of Muslim women — in the UK must end. Writing in The Times, he announced a £20-million language-tuition fund to teach English to “some 190,000” isolated women. The move, he said, would “build the stronger society that is within reach” in the UK.
Dr Ed Kessler, the director of the Woolf Institute, said that Mr Cameron’s focus on Muslim women was “extremely unfortunate” in a discussion on integration. “Points that apply equally to immigrants from a wide variety of nationalities, backgrounds and religions . . . have been used to associate all Muslims,” Dr Kessler said.
Mr Cameron also told Radio 4 on Monday that he backed the right of schools to prevent Muslim girls’ wearing full-face veils in lessons, although he ruled out a public ban.