Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric condemned
FROM a call to bar Muslims from the United States to proclaiming Western culture as superior to Islam: Recent terrorist attacks have sparked a startling rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and an equally robust response.
Leading the way was Donald Trump, the 69-year-old American billionaire candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, who has revelled in headline-grabbing controversy since hitting the campaign trail.
Mr Trump urged a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" after a Muslim couple, said to be radicalised, shot dead 14 people in a rampage in California.
Meanwhile, a deposed Australian prime minister Tony Abbott picked up the torch, telling the Sydney Daily Telegraph: "We can't remain in denial about the massive problem within Islam."
The staunch Catholic urged the West to "be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God".
The sharpening in anti-Muslim rhetoric has prompted a fierce counter-reaction, with Mr Trump first in the firing line. London mayor Boris Johnson dismissed Mr Trump's "ill-informed" remarks as "complete and utter nonsense".
Mr Trump suggested there were parts of the British capital that were so "radicalised" that police feared to tread and found himself on the end of Mr Johnson'sacerbic wit.
"Crime has been falling steadily both in London and in New York and the only reason I wouldn't go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump," said Mr Johnson.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest also attacked Mr Trump on a personal level, deriding him as a "carnival barker" with "fake hair". With his "offensive" and "toxic" comments, Mr Trump has effectively barred himself from the race for the White House, Mr Earnest said.
Republican rival Lindsey Graham - badly trailing Mr Trump in opinion polls - was more succinct. "Do you know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell."
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admonished his predecessor Mr Abbott for his remarks: "What we must not do is play into the hands of our enemies and seek to tag all Muslims with the responsibility for the crimes of a few."
Even Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling compared Mr Trump unfavourably to one of her more notorious villains.
"How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad."