Republican U.S. presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has called for a "total and complete" block on Muslims entering the United States until the nation's leaders can "figure out what is going on."
Trump alleged that polling data shows "hatred toward Americans by large segments of the Muslim population."
"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," Trump said Monday.
Virulent statements against Muslims are nothing new for Trump, who has called on the government to monitor mosques, and has refused to rule out his earlier proposal to enter the names of Muslims in America into a database.
But Monday's statement was an escalation even for the billionaire's usually harsh rhetoric aimed at members of the Islamic faith, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about counter-terrorism and the United States fight against Islamic State during an address to the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Dec. 6, 2015.
Trump's remarks come a day after President Barack Obama urged Americans during a nationally televised address not to turn against Muslims in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
The White House quickly condemned Trump's proposal, calling it "totally contrary to our values as Americans."
"We have, in our Bill of Rights, respect for the freedom of religion," Ben Rhodes, one of Obama's top foreign policy aides, told CNN.
Presidential candidates' responses
Trump's remarks also drew condemnation from his opponents in upcoming presidential primaries.
Former Florida governor and fellow presidential hopeful Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump "is unhinged. ... His 'policy' proposals are not serious."
"That's a ridiculous position and one that won't even be productive," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Lindsey Graham said Trump "has gone from making absurd comments to being downright dangerous with his bombastic rhetoric."
Ibraham Hooper, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, had an especially blistering response to Trump's demand.
"We're entering into the realm of the fascist now," he said. "It should be disturbing not only to American Muslims, but it should be disturbing to all Americans that the leading Republican presidential candidate would issue essentially a fascist statement like this."