An international backlash grew Wednesday against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, with nearly 250,000 Britons signing an online petition that calls for the real estate mogul to be banned from entering their country.
Trump called Monday for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States, saying the ban should remain in place until the government "can figure out" Muslim attitudes to the United States, in the wake of deadly shootings in California earlier this month.
Some Britons say his remarks amount to "hate speech" and have called for Trump to be barred from the U.K., where he owns a Scottish golf course.
Hate speech comparison
Scottish National Party lawmaker Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said the same rules should be applied to Trump as those used against extremist Muslim preachers.
“We have already banned 84 hate preachers from this country," Ahmed-Sheikh said. "My view is that what Donald Trump said amounts to hate speak. And, therefore, my question to the government is: 'Let us consider making him No. 85.' "
Online petitions that cross the 100,000-signature threshold are considered for debate in parliament, but British Finance Minister George Osborne told lawmakers Wednesday it would be wrong to "ban presidential candidates."
"The best way to confront the views of someone like Donald Trump is to engage in a robust democratic argument with him about why he is profoundly wrong," Osborne said in the House of Commons.
Previously, Britain has denied entry to figures as diverse as U.S. boxer Mike Tyson, rapper Tyler the Creator, radical Muslim preachers and the late Christian fundamentalist Fred Phelps Sr.
In Israel, left- and right-wing politicians alike, as well as Israeli Arab lawmakers, condemned Trump's remarks and said he should be barred from visiting.
A government official, however, confirmed to Reuters Wednesday that a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. presidential candidate would take place December 28. The meeting was set two weeks ago.
WATCH: Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims entering the U.S.
Sources close to the right-wing Netanyahu told Reuters "he does not agree with everything said by every [U.S. election] candidate."
At least 37 Israeli opposition legislators, most from the opposition, who make up almost a third of the 120-seat Knesset signed a letter to Netanyahu calling on him to cancel the meeting unless Trump withdraws his comments.
During a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, President Barack Obama made a pointed call for tolerance and respect.
"Remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others, regardless of what they look like ... or what faith they practice," Obama said during an event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 13th amendment, which ended slavery.
He urged Americans to do what previous generations had done and "rise above cynicism and fear."
Trump leads in presidential surveys of likely Republican votes.
The prime ministers of France and Britain, Canada's foreign minister, the United Nations and Muslims in Asian countries have also denounced Trump's comments.
Iran and beyond
In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, called Trump's comments "particularly bizarre" and accused the United States Wednesday of having "created terrorism."
During a Wednesday Cabinet meeting Rouhani said, "Islam is the religion of goodness and peace. ... Unfortunately, certain people around the world claim that Muslims should be barred from entry in order to fight terrorism."
Elsewhere, Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, revoked an honorary doctorate it had awarded Trump in 2010, saying in a statement, "In the course of the current U.S. election campaign, Mr. Trump has made a number of statements that are wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university."
Trump's comments had financial fallout Wednesday, too. The Landmark firm, with 190 retail stores in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, said it was pulling his glitzy "Trump Home" line of house furnishings from its
The company, one of the region's largest retail chains, did not give any details on the value of the contract. So far, there have been no other announcements of business partners breaking with Trump.
In Paris, the psychological wounds left by November’s Islamic State terror attacks are still raw, but many Parisians condemned Trump’s comments, including student Mathilda Adrovic, who said the billionaire should not have a place in American politics.
In Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, residents of Jakarta were eager to refute Trump’s claim that Muslims pose a threat.
Anis Ekayani said that Islam teaches to always do good things to fellow human beings, so she viewed the proposal by Trump as very inappropriate because it reflects an attitude that is against Islam.
The comments by Trump, who has suggested that the U.S. should have seized Iraq’s oil fields and given the money to veteran soldiers, were met with anger by Iraqi lawmaker Abbas al-Bayati as well. He called the statements racist and not in line with the principles of American democracy.
In New York City, about 100 political and religious leaders gathered on the steps of City Hall Wednesday to denounce Trump's proposal.
"We're here today to say loud and clear to Donald Trump and to all others that speak hate and division that enough is enough. ... The rhetoric this election cycle has been nothing short of shameful, embarrassing and at times dangerous. It is dangerous," City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.
"His rhetoric this election cycle has gone to mean to hateful and now dangerous. What Donald Trump has called for, banning Muslims from entering our nation, is xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic. His fear-mongering is fanning hate," Mark-Viverito said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was not present.
World War IIcomparison
Trump has courted controversy during his White House run with derogatory comments about immigrants and controversial proposals to deport undocumented immigrants and implement a database to keep track of Muslim Americans.
He defended his proposal Tuesday, comparing his plan to ban Muslims to the U.S. government's World War II detainment of Japanese-Americans. He has referenced that President Franklin Roosevelt had overseen the internment of more than 110,000 people in U.S. government camps after Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation providing payments and apologies to Japanese-Americans detained during the war.
Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.