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Trump lawyer calls Islam a 'great country' while defending Muslim ban

Trump said he needed a Muslim ban to 'figure out what the hell is going on'. His solicitor general still seems unsure about what Islam actually is
The majority of Supreme Court justices appeared convinced on Wednesday of the legality of the travel ban (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump’s senior legal officer has called Islam “one of the great countries of the world” while defending the US president's ban on Muslim immigration, sparking ridicule on social media sites.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco on Wednesday told a Supreme Court hearing on the US president's ban that Islam was "one of the great countries of the world".

The court heard oral arguments in Trump versus Hawaii, the case against the president's executive order banning entry for nationals of several countries, most of which are Muslim-majority states.

"He has made crystal clear that Muslims in this country are great Americans, and there are many, many Muslim countries who love this country," Francisco said in closing remarks.

"And he has praised Islam as one of the great countries of the world."

Light blue-touch paper, step back, cue Twitter fireworks.

Following Trump’s announcement of his “Muslim ban” around this time last year, the country witnessed a wave of Islamophobia.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that 2017 was one of the worst years for Muslims in America, with attacks on community members increasing by 44 percent from the year before.

Since then, the so-called Muslim ban has morphed into several versions, with many states' supreme courts weighing in on the legality of Trump's executive order, which for now targets Iran, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela.

A statement published on Trump’s campaign website on 7 December 2015, which has since been removed, called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", until he could "figure out what the hell was going on". 

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as the vice chairman of Trump’s transition team, told Fox: “When he first announced in, he said 'Muslim ban'."

"He called me up. He said 'put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally'."

These remarks were not the only controversial comments Trump has made about Muslims.

He also said in an interview with CNN: “I think Islam hates us.”

In the interview, Trump drew very little distinction between the religion and terrorism.

"It's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who.”

Protesters rally outside DHS office in Chicago against Trump ban (AFP)

Seeking to prove that Trump is not in fact intolerant of Muslims, Francisco had meant to say that Islam was one of the world’s “greatest faiths”, the solicitor general’s office told Business Insider

Francisco had intended to reference Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia last May, in which he described Islam as such. But Francisco’s slip of the tongue was not met kindly.

Trump’s rhetoric surrounding Islam has been one of the main causes for opposition. The hashtag ‘NoMuslimBanEver’ kicked off on Twitter as arguments were made before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

In 2017, there were 3.45 million Muslims in the US, making up about 1.1 percent of the total US population, a report published by the Pew Research Centre found.

Currently, 75 percent of Muslims in the US are immigrants or second-generation Americans, according to the data.