During a brief press availability Wednesday afternoon, President-elect Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States and was noncommittal about whether he still supports a Muslim registry.
A reporter asked Trump about his Muslim ban in the context of the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that left 12 dead. The suspected perpetrator is Anis Amri, a Tunisian who German authorities say was known to be in touch with radical Islamist groups.
“Has [the attack] caused you to rethink or reevaluate your plans to create a Muslim registry or ban Muslim immigration in the United States?” the reporter asked.
“Hey, you’ve known my plans all along and it’s, they’ve proven to be right. 100 percent correct. What’s happening is disgraceful,” he replied.
Indeed, the December 2015 statement in which Trump called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” is still on Trump’s website.
Trump then had to be reminded by another reporter that his own statement about the Berlin attack characterized it as an example of “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter[ing] Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.”
The reporter asked him, “Your comments about the attack in Berlin being against Christians, do you think that might—”
“Who said that, when did, when was that said?” Trump replied.
“I believe you said it in a press release,” the reporter reminded him.
“It’s an attack on humanity. That’s what it is, it’s an attack on humanity and it’s got to be stopped. Thank you.” Trump replied, ending the availability.
Standing behind Trump was retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, his choice for national security adviser, who earlier this year tweeted on separate occasions that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” and dared “Arab & Persian world ‘leaders’ to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed.”
Trump has unleashed some of his most Islamophobic rhetoric in the immediate aftermath of attacks like the one in Berlin. He first proposed the Muslim ban last December following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, endorsed the waterboarding of terrorism suspects following the March attacks in Belgium, and reiterated his call for a Muslim ban following the June mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando.
In August, Trump introduced the idea of requiring aspiring immigrants to pass an ideological test before being allowed entry to the country.