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Global backlash grows against Trump

by Staff reporter
30 Jan 2017 at 05:17hrs | Views

United States President Donald Trump vowed to improve floundering ties with Russia, while also reassuring close US allies he supports NATO.

Trump said this during a telephone conversation he had with Russian President Vladmir Putin on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Trump faced a first legal defeat amid growing international alarm over his halt to refugees and travellers from certain Muslim majority countries, with a federal judge blocking part of the ban.

The temporary stay orders authorities to stop deporting dozens of refugees and other travellers who had been detained at US airports since Trump signed his measure on Friday afternoon.

A global backlash against Trump's immigration curbs gathered pace yesterday as several countries including long-standing American allies criticised the measures as discriminatory and divisive. Governments from London and Berlin to Jakarta and Tehran spoke out against Trump's order to put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the US and temporarily ban travellers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, which he said would help protect Americans from terrorism.

According to a Press Association report, British prime minister Theresa May has ordered foreign secretary Boris Johnson and home secretary Amber Rudd to telephone their American counterparts to make representations about the US travel ban, Downing Street has said.

In Germany — which has taken in large numbers of people fleeing the Syrian civil war — Chancellor Angela Merkel said the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for the measures and "does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion", her spokesman said.

She expressed her concerns to Trump during a phone call and reminded him that the Geneva Conventions require the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds, the spokesman added.

Merkel's sentiments were echoed in Paris and London; "Terrorism knows no nationality. Discrimination is no response," said French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, while his British counterpart Boris Johnson tweeted: "Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality."

Along with Syria, the US ban affects travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump said his order, which indefinitely bans refugees from Syria, was "not a Muslim ban", though he added he would seek to prioritise Christian refugees fleeing the war-torn country.

Washington's Arab allies, including the Gulf states and Egypt, were mostly silent. The government in Iraq, which is allied with Washington in the battle against ultra-hardline Islamist group Islamic State and hosts over 5 000 US troops, also did not comment on the executive order.

But some members of parliament said Iraq should retaliate with similar measures against the United States.

In Baghdad, influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said American nationals should leave Iraq, in retaliation for the travel curbs.

Trump's executive order on Friday took effect immediately, wreaking havoc and confusion for would-be travellers with passports from the seven countries and plunging America's immigration system into chaos.

The Tehran government vowed to respond in kind to the US ban on visitors from Iran, but on Sunday Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that Americans who already hold Iranian visas can enter the country.

Trump, a businessman who successfully tapped into American fears about militant attacks during his campaign, had promised what he called "extreme vetting" of immigrants and refugees from areas the White House said the US Congress deemed high risk.

He said on Saturday of his order: "It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over."

The travel curbs, however, also drew criticism from several other countries around the globe. In Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the Muslim-majority nation deeply regretted Trump's plans for "extreme vetting" of people from some Muslim countries.

The US president yesterday defended his position. He tweeted using his personal Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump and cited the deaths of Christians in the Middle East as justification for his travel ban: "Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!"


Source - Reuters/The Guardian/HR.

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