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Tillerson Opposes 'Blanket' Ban On Muslims Once Backed By Trump

Rex Tillerson

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state has called Islam a "great faith" and said he does not support a "blanket" rejection of individuals from a particular religion or group.

Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson made the remarks during a marathon January 11 confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

During his campaign, Trump proposed a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the country in order to prevent acts of terror, a measure widely condemned by both Democrats and Republicans as discriminatory.

He has since embraced "extreme vetting" of people arriving from countries plagued by terrorism, many of which have primarily Muslim populations.

Tillerson told lawmakers that he traveled widely in Muslim countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia during his time at ExxonMobil and had "gained an appreciation and recognition of this great faith."

"I do not support a blanket-type rejection of any particular group of people," he said.

He added, however, that the United States had "serious challenges" in keeping extremists out of the country and that he didn't think "we can just close our eyes and ignore that."

"We have to be very clear-eyed about recognizing that threat and developing a means to deal with it," Tillerson said.

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