Obama hits out at Donald Trump over comments on Orlando massacre
U.S. President Barack Obama has hit out at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump over his comments on the attack at Pulse nightclub in the central Florida city of Orlando that killed 49 people on Sunday.
Speaking at a briefing at the White House after meeting his National Security Council, Obama rubbished Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim emigration to the U.S.
Obama said that there is no evidence Omar Mateen, who allegedly carried out the worst mass shooting in recent American history, was connected to a radical group.
“We currently do not have any information to indicate that a foreign terrorist group directed the attack in Orlando. It is increasingly clear, however, that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized,” he said.
U.S. investigators on Tuesday were digging into what motivated a Florida man to slaughter 49 people at a gay nightclub, including evidence that he had become absorbed in militant Islamist ideas and reports he might have been gay himself, but not openly so.
Lawmakers could help prevent mass shootings by increasing restrictions on access to assault weapons, Obama said.
“If we really want to help law enforcement to protect Americans from home grown extremists, the kind of tragedies that occurred at San Bernardino and that now have occurred in Orlando, there is a meaningful way to do that. We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents,” said Obama.
Obama also said that U.S. forces and their allies were making progress in the fight against the Islamic State, and detailed what he said were new steps to combat the extremist group which he referred to by its acronym, ISIL.
“Over the last two months I’ve authorized a series of steps to ratchet up our fight against ISIL. Additional US personnel including special forces in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there. Additional advisors to work more closely with Iraqi security forces. And additional assets including attack helicopters. And additional support for local forces in Northern Iraq,” said Obama.
Obama strongly criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for reiterating his proposal that Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S.
“We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from emigrating to America. We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complicit in violence. 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?” he said.
Such proposals, Obama said, were a betrayal of America’s founding ideals.
“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,” he said.
The attack on the Pulse nightclub in the central Florida city was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and the worst attack on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.