Barack Obama is under fire for appearing to deny that the murders of four Jewish shoppers in a kosher supermarket in Paris last month was anti-Semitic.

In an interview with news website Vox, the US President said Americans have a right to be concerned by “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris”.

Asked later to clarify Obama’s comment, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “It is clear from the terrorists and the writings that they put out afterward what their motivation was. The adverb [random] that the President chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki offered similar sentiment, claiming that the victims were ‘were not all victims of one background or one nationality.’

Governor Rick Perry issued a statement saying: “I am appalled that President Obama has chosen to deny the vicious anti-Semitic motivation of the attack on a kosher Jewish grocery in Paris on January 9th.”

“What he called a “random” attack was obviously meant to kill Jews– which is precisely what happened. The individual victims may have been those unlucky enough to be in the grocery that day, but it was far from random.”