Obama slams Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and ‘ignorance’

US President Barack Obama criticises Trump’s 'anti-intellectual' and anti-Muslim rhetoric, saying ‘ignorance is not a virtue.’

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the 2016 graduating class at High Point Solutions Stadium during Rutgers University's 250th commencement exercises, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, May 15, 2016.

US President Barack Obama blasted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his "anti-intellectual" rhetoric regarding Muslims and immigrants during a commencement address at Rutgers University to the 2016 graduating class.

"If you are listening to today's political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from. So, class of 2016, let me be as clear as I can be..." Obama said in the last lecture to the class.

"...in politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue."

Despite not directly mentioning the Republican candidate’s name, Obama criticised Trump’s suggestion that there should be total ban on Muslims entering the US, saying that such a ban would run counter to the US’s history as the melting pot and go against the innovation and dynamism of the country.

"The point is to help ourselves we've got to help others..." Obama told newly graduates.  "...not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out."

'I’m not stupid, okey?'

This was not the first time Trump’s anti-immigrant sentiment has met with strong opposition from a politician. Aside from previously being criticised by Obama, his suggestion of a ban on Muslims was also condemned by British Prime Minister David Cameron and the newly elected Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Only couple of weeks ago, Cameron told media that he stands by his earlier comments about Trump’s remarks after calling the Muslim ban idea "stupid, wrong and divisive."

The British PM said US voters were to decide which candidate to choose and knowing the gruelling nature of primaries, each candidate deserved respect.

"But what I said about Muslims I won't change that view, I don't change that view," Cameron later continued.

"I’m very clear that the policy idea that was put forward was wrong, is wrong and will remain wrong. So I’m very clear about that."

The Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also recently expressed his concerns regarding the proposed ban and said he wanted to visit US before presidential elections, "in case Donald Trump wins."

However, the Republican candidate - who had earlier said the ban would apply to all Muslims - acknowledged that Khan would be an "exception."

Apparently not thrilled by the privilege, Khan said he didn't want to be exempted from the ban, calling Trump 'ignorant.'

"This isn’t just about me, it’s about my friends, my family and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world," Khan said.

Donald Trump responded to Cameron’s statements during a ITV News interview, saying:

"Well, number one I'm not stupid, Okay?

"I can tell you that, right now - just the opposite."

He also denied accusations that he had alienated Muslims.

TRTWorld and agencies