Donald Trump has launched a staunch defence of his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States amid a storm of criticism, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling labelling him worse than her fictional villain Voldemort and the White House painting him as a “carnival barker” with “fake hair”.
Mr Trump, who is the Republican presidential front-runner, called for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the country”, claiming there was “great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population”.
The remarks sparked condemnation from both sides of US politics, as well as world leaders and the United Nations' refugee agency, while social media users compared Mr Trump to Voldemort.
Rowling responded to the comparison, saying: "How horrible, Voldemort was nowhere near as bad."
The White House challenged Republicans to denounce Mr Trump, saying his campaign had a "dustbin of history" quality and labelling his proposals unconstitutional.
"What Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, describing Mr Trump's comments variously as "offensive" and "toxic."
"What he said is disqualifying and any Republican who's too fearful of the Republican base to admit it has no business serving as president either."
Mr Trump dismissed the growing outrage in a lengthy interview, comparing his plan to the World War II detainment of Japanese-Americans.
He said his ideas were no worse than those of then-US president Franklin D Roosevelt, who oversaw the internment of more than 110,000 people in US government camps after Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
"What I'm doing is no different than FDR," Mr Trump told ABC America.
Mr Trump warned repeatedly that an attack on the scale of September 11, 2001, could happen again if officials did not act first.
"We have no choice but to do this. We have people that want to blow up our buildings, our cities," he said.
"We have to figure out what's going on."
Mr Trump said people would be asked about their religion at US borders and that the ban would extend to Muslim leaders of other nations. He said he would not support internment camps.
The real estate mogul's comments drew criticism from as far afield as London and Cairo, where Egypt's official religious body Dar al-Iftaa denounced his comments as "extremist and racist".
A spokeswoman for British prime minister David Cameron said he "completely disagrees" with Mr Trump's remarks, which were "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong".
The real estate mogul was also lambasted by leading Republicans and campaign rivals.