Obama Slams Anti-Muslim Rhetoric: ‘It Betrays The Very Values America Stands For’

SEATTLE (CBS) — On Tuesday afternoon in Seattle, police officers and SWAT members sped to a building in the city’s Greenwood neighborhood, where they arrested a 37-year-old man for making threats against a local mosque and claiming online to have purchased an assault rifle and extra rounds of ammunition.

The arrest, ironically, comes just hours after a visibly-disturbed President Barack Obama spoke about the dangers of the anti-Muslim rhetoric  voiced by Donald Trump.

Speeches by both the President and the presumptive republic nominee were made following the June 12 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead. The gunman was reportedly motivated by extremist propaganda online, and referenced ISIS.

Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump speaks at the Saint Andelm College New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump speaks at the Saint Andelm College New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

“The only reason the killer was in America in the first place is because we allowed his family to come here,” Trump told reporters Monday, referring to the shooter as “an Afghan” born in Afghanistan (the shooter was a U.S. citizen born in New York).

Trump said he would place restrictions on Muslim immigration if elected into office.

“The immigration laws of the United States give the president powers to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons… when I’m elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe, or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: (AFP-OUT) US President Barack Obama speaks on the Orlando shooting at the Treasury Department after convening with his National Security Council on June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama directly attacked Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 14: (AFP-OUT) US President Barack Obama speaks on the Orlando shooting at the Treasury Department after convening with his National Security Council on June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama directly attacked Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images”Groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the west. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions. They want us to validate them, but implying that they speak for those billion-plus people, that they speak for Islam. That’s their propaganda; that’s who they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”

“What exactly would using this [radical Islam] label accomplish?” the President said, presumably addressing a Trump Tweet . “What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is: none of the above.”

Obama called out Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants, noting the serious threat he believes the sentiment will impose both to American citizens and American ideals:

“Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer — they were all U.S. citizens. Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith? We’ve heard these suggestions over the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want. It doesn’t reflect our democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe, it will make us less safe, fueling ISIL’s notion that the west hates Muslims, making young Muslims in this country and around the world feel like no matter what they do they’re going to be under suspicion and under attack.

“It betrays the very values America stands for. We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear, and we came to regret it. We’ve seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens. And it has been a shameful part of our history. This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here. Our founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights are clear about that.

“And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect. The pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great — the very things that make us exceptional. And then the terrorists would have won. And we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen.”

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