[WASHINGTON] Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Monday called for a "total and complete" block on Muslims entering the United States, in the wake of last week's mass shooting in California by a Muslim couple believed to have been radicalised.
A statement from Trump's campaign team said the halt on Muslims entering the country should remain in place "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." The statement does not specify if the proposal would affect both tourists and immigrants, and also does not say if it would target American Muslims currently abroad.
Mr Trump's campaign cites poll data allegedly showing "hatred toward Americans by large segments of the Muslim population." "Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine," the billionaire real estate mogul, who is leading in opinion polls among likely Republican voters, said in the statement.
"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."
Mr Trump has been increasingly virulent in his remarks targeting Muslim Americans since the deadly Paris attacks, and again in the wake of last week's shooting rampage in California, which left 14 dead and 21 wounded.
"Just put out a very important policy statement on the extraordinary influx of hatred & danger coming into our country. We must be vigilant!" Mr Trump tweeted after the statement was released.
His announcement unleashed quick condemnation on Twitter.
"@realdonaldtrump removes all doubt: he is running for President as a fascist demagogue," Democratic presidential contender Martin O'Malley said.