Despite his call for a temporary ban of Muslims entering the United States and a database that would track all Muslims in the country, Donald Trump said Monday, “There will always be exceptions.”
The presumptive Republican nominee, in an interview with the New York Times, provided his first “exception”: London’s newly-elected mayor, Sadiq Khan, who is the first Muslim to be elected mayor of a Western capital.
“I was happy to see [Khan win],” Trump said. “I think it’s a very good thing, and I hope he does a very good job because frankly that would be very, very good.”
His comments contrast greatly from previous statements, including remarks he made last Wednesday on MSNBC’S Morning Joe, when he doubled down on his proposed ban calling it the “right thing” to do and attacked Europe just days before Khan’s victory.
“We have to be careful,” Trump said. “We’re allowing thousands of people to come into our country that, frankly, nobody knows who they are They’re destroying Europe, I’m not going to let that happen to the United States. I don’t care if it hurts me [in the election].”
In November, Trump said he would “absolutely” create a national database to track Muslims in America a proposal some compared to that of Hitler with Jewish people in Nazi Germany. He then called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims,” saying “it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension” and said he would temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country.
This divisive rhetoric has resulted in the further spread of anti-Islamic behavior and beliefs. A Georgetown University study concluded that Trump’s hate speech led to ‘almost daily’ attacks on Muslims.
Trump also targeted Britain specifically in a December tweet about Muslims:
The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015
Meanwhile, Khan, who later called the GOP frontrunner “ignorant,” denounced Trump’s hateful rhetoric just a day before the Times article in an interview with Time, saying Trump’s strategy won’t be successful in a country like the U.S.
“Conservative tacticians thought those sorts of tactics would win London and they were wrong,” he said, in regards to the conservative opponent he defeated in last week’s mayoral election. “I’m confident that Donald Trump’s approach to politics won’t win in America.”
Upon hearing of Trump’s “exception,” Khan rejected the offer.
“I think Donald Trump has ignorant views about Islam,” said Khan. “It’s not just about me. I don’t want to be the exception to be allowed to go to America.”
“And my concern is he’s playing to the hands of extremists, who say it’s not compatible to be Western and to be a mainstream Muslim,” he added. “I think London showed it is.”
Trump’s rhetoric will only continue to further divide people, according to Khan.
“Hope, I think, is a good way of persuading people to vote for you, energize and enthuse people,” he said. “I think to try and look for differences, to try and turn communities against each other is not conducive to living successfully and amicably.”
Khan is not the only international leader to speak out against Trump, with Paris Mayor Anne Hildago saying of the Muslim ban, “Mr. Trump is just stupid, my God.”
After hearing Khan’s response, Trump on Wednesday backtracked and gave a completely different stance from what he said in December.
“We have a serious problem, and it’s a temporary ban it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it, this is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on,” he said.