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Story highlights

His harshest remarks were for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and though Obama did not name Cruz, he made it very clear he was infuriated with the GOP firebrand

The President called the position a "dark impulse"

(CNN) —  

A clearly angry President Barack Obama on Monday used the world stage to call out Republican presidential candidates for being counterproductive, “talking as if they’re tough” on ISIS and stoking fears about Muslim refugees from Syria.

Speaking to the press in Turkey at the G20 Summit with world leaders, his harshest remarks were for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and though Obama did not name Cruz, he made it very clear he was infuriated with the GOP firebrand.

“When I hear folks say that maybe we should just admit the Christians and not the Muslims (refugees), when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American,” Obama said, raising his voice.

RELATED: Republicans tell Obama to keep Syrian refugees out

Cruz’s father emigrated to the United States from Cuba and said he was the victim of brutal beatings at the hands of the Cuban dictator before Fidel Castro. The presidential hopeful has also said Christians from war-torn Syria are victims and do not pose a risk of terrorism, whereas letting in Muslim refugees would be “lunacy.”

08:14 - Source: CNN
Jeb Bush on State of the Union: Full Interview

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday the U.S. should focus its assistance in Syria on Christians.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s parents also left Cuba and stayed in the U.S. for fear of political persecution, a fact he, like Cruz, often raises on the campaign trail. After the Paris attack, he has called for not accepting any Syrian refugees in the U.S., after previously being open to helping some.

RELATED: 2016ers express alarm over refugees

In Monday’s news conference from Turkey, where Obama is attending G20 meetings with world leaders, the President called the position a “dark impulse” and praised Republican former President George W. Bush for saying explicitly after the Sept. 11 attacks that we are not at war with Islam itself.

“The notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all that, that’s not who we are. On this, they should follow his example, it was the right one. The right impulse. Our better impulse,” Obama said.

“The values that we’re fighting against ISIL for is precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith, that we don’t kill people different than us,” Obama said. “It is good to remember that the United States does not have a religious test.”