Barack Obama has said it is “just wrong” for politicians to “insult Muslims” during his last State of the Union speech as president.

Although Donald Trump was not mentioned by name, President Obama’s remarks criticised the Republican presidential front-runner for calling for the temporary ban of Muslims from entering the US.  

“When politicians insult Muslims… that doesn’t make us safer. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals," said the president, as members of the audience in Congress errupted in applause.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric, he said, "betrays who we are as a country".

The US needed to "reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn't a matter of political correctness," he added.

Mr Trump, who has also called for a wall on the US border with Mexico to prevent entry to illegal immigrants, has been condemned across the world for his attitude towards Muslims and immigrants. Responding to the speech, the billionaire said it was "boring" and "non-substantive".

Mr Obama also said comparing the effort to tackle Islamic State to World War Three gave the group what it wanted.

"Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks, twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages: they pose an enormous danger to civilians; they have to be stopped."

"But they do not threaten our national existence," said the president.

The Republican response to the State of the Union address was delivered by Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina. In comments which also seemed to take aim at Mr Trump, she said: "During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow teh siren call of the angriest voices."

"We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country."

Additional reporting by Reuters

Courtesy: Independent