Obama blasts Gingrich's Muslim test as 'repugnant'

President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward MORE on Friday slammed a proposal by Newt Gingrich to “test” American Muslims and deport those who follow Shariah. 

“The very suggestion is repugnant and an affront to everything we stand for as Americans,” Obama said at a reception with diplomats at the White House. 


Obama said it would undermine freedoms of speech and religion protected by the Constitution. 

“We cannot give into fear or turn on each other or sacrifice our way of life,” he said. “We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion, because that is exactly what the terrorists want. We should never do their work for them.”

Gingrich was widely condemned for urging extreme measures against U.S. Muslims in response to Thursday night’s terror attack in Nice, France, which left 84 dead and more than 200 injured.

“We should ... test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Shariah, they should be deported,” he said during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity Thursday night.

Gingrich took direct aim at Obama, saying that his anti-terrorism strategy has been listless and is partly to blame for attacks like the one in Nice. 
“This is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary, and to tell us the truth, and that starts with Barack Obama,” he said. 
Obama said he reaffirmed his pledge to fight terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in the wake of the “appalling attack.”
“We will not relent,” Obama said. “We are going to keep working together to prevent attacks and defend our homeland. We are going to destroy this vile terrorist organization.”
The president said he relayed the message in a phone call with French President François Hollande and a personal conversation with the country’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud. 
Following Obama's remarks, Gingrich tweeted that the president's record on terrorism should "disqualify him" from being able to make criticisms. 
"Obama's attack on me would be more impressive if he had ANY plan to defeat Islamic supremacist.8 years of failure disqualify him as a critic," Gingrich wrote.
The attack in Nice, in which a Tunisian-born Frenchman drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, was the third major terrorist attack in France in the past 18 months, raising new fears about the reach of extremist groups like ISIS. 
Two U.S. citizens, a Texas man and his 11-year-old son, were among the 84 people killed.
French officials have identified the truck driver as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31. Investigators have said he has no known ties to Islamic extremist groups but does have past burglary, theft and assault convictions.