President Obama on Friday rejected the suggestion of "testing Muslims for their beliefs" for possible deportation in the wake of the deadly attack in Nice, France.
It was a not-so-subtle rebuke of an idea put forth by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called for every person of Muslim background in the United States to be tested for his or her belief in Sharia law, adding that those who do should be deported.
He made his comments just hours after a truck driver plowed through a crowd gathered in Nice to celebrate Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people and injuring scores more.
“Let me be as blunt and as direct as I can be: Western civilization is in a war,” Gingrich said speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “We should, frankly, test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”
Obama slammed the suggestion in an address Friday, calling it an affront to everything Americans stand for.
"We cannot give in to fear, or turn on each other, or sacrifice our way of life," he said.
As of Friday afternoon, the 31-year-old attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, had not been linked to any terror group, and no organization had taken responsibility.
"We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion because that is exactly what the terrorists want," Obama said. "We should never do their work for them and here in the United States our freedoms, including freedom of religion, help keep us strong and safe."
Gingrich responded to Obama's statement's on Twitter.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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