LONDON – More than 35,000 Britons have signed an online petition to ban US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump from the country following his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.
In response to a deadly shooting spree in California by two Muslims whom the FBI said had been radicalised, Trump called for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on".
After condemnation from around the world, Trump on Tuesday defended his proposal which he said was no worse than those of then-president Franklin D Roosevelt, who oversaw the internment of more than 110,000 people in US government camps after Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
"The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech," the text of the British petition said. "If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the 'unacceptable behaviour' criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful."
Britain's interior ministry has the power to ban people from entering the country if they have engaged in what the government determines to be "unacceptable behaviour".
In the past people have been banned for fostering hatred that might provoke inter-community violence. By early on Wednesday morning the petition had attracted 35,827 signatures – a number which was rising quickly.
The government responds to all petitions that gain more than 10,000 signatures, and if it reaches 100,000 the topic will be considered for a parliamentary debate.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday said Cameron thought Trump's comments were "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong".
Britain has a estimated population of 2,7-million Muslims.
Earlier this year, the government said fighting extremism was one of the defining battles of this century and announced a strategy primarily designed to counter the ideology promoted by Islamic State militants, al-Qaeda and other radical Islamists.
Meanwhile, the Dubai-based Landmark Group, one of the Middle East's largest retail firms, said it was pulling Donald Trump products off its shelves in response to the Republican presidential front-runner's call for a ban on Muslims entering the US.
Landmark and DT Home Marks International LLC have an exclusive deal to sell Trump Home products – including lighting, mirrors, and jewellery boxes – in their Lifestyle department stores in Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
"In light of the recent statements made by the presidential candidate in the US media, we have suspended sale of all products from the Trump Home décor range," CEO Sachin Mundhwa said in an e-mailed statement.
The group did not give details on the value of the contract.
On Monday, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the US in the most dramatic response by a candidate yet to last week's shooting spree by two Muslims in California.
The call drew sharp rebuke from both the White House and other Republican presidential candidates.
Lifestyle has more than 190 stores across the Middle East, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Tanzania.