Trump travel ban triggers global deluge of outrage and criticism

As airports and airlines scramble in confusion to comply with US restrictions for refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, world leaders and individuals condemn the US for its "shameful" and "insulting" ban.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Iraq's lawmakers have called for a reciprocal travel ban on the US.

Updated Jan 30, 2017

Condemnations and protests continued as the world woke up on Sunday and watched how US President Donald Trump's harsh travel ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries was impacting the lives of people.

Though a federal court in New York has placed a stay order on the immigration ban, the court's decision will not be far-reaching, the White House and Department of Homeland Security said. According to Trump’s executive order issued on Friday, people from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen cannot enter the US for 90 days. Also, refugee admissions have been stopped for four months.

This change in US immigration policy has caused an early trail of political collateral damage and confusion as countries, individuals and companies try to figure out how to proceed.

The political tide

Known for his camera-ready looks and relatively inclusive outlook, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a welcome to refugees "regardless of your faith."

Trudeau might not have ventured into more political waters, but Iran – one of the seven countries on Trump's persona non grata list – had stronger words to share.

"The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America... are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists," Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday said in a statement, carried by state media. ​

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran would stop issuing new visas to US citizens but anyone already with a visa to Iran wouldn't be turned away.

Iraq's foreign affairs committee on Sunday said the US travel bans imposed on Iraqis were "unfair."

"We ask the Iraqi government to reciprocate to the decision taken by the U.S administration," said the committee in a statement read to Reuters by one its members, Hassan Shwerid. "Iraq is in the frontline of the war on terror ... and it is unfair that the Iraqis are treated in this way."

Iraq's former ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, said the ban was unfair to a country that itself has been a victim of terror attacks, and could backfire.

"We have a strong partnership with the US, more so in the urgent fight against terrorism. This ban move will not help, and people will start questioning the bond of this partnership," Faily said.

Sudan called the action "very unfortunate." While a Yemeni official expressed dismay at the ban, the Houthi rebel force at war with a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen said the ban on immigration is "illegal and illegitimate."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Trump that the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for banning refugees or people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Sunday.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May landed back from a visit to Trump amid a political storm of sorts, receiving criticism from her fellow party members for not speaking out against the US travel ban. May issued a statement late Saturday night that Britain did not agree with "this kind of approach" but understood that US immigration was a matter of US policy.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan posted this on social media:

As leaders continued to criticise the US policy, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Sunday the nation deeply regretted Trump's plans for "extreme vetting" of people from some Muslim countries entering the US.

'A terrible error in US history'

An Iraqi family of four said their dreams of emigrating to the United States were dashed after they were blocked from entering America.

Faud Suleman, his wife and two daughters aged 10 and 17, and a son aged 19, said they spent two years obtaining US visas but were turned back to Iraq when they attempted to board a connecting flight to America from Cairo, Egypt.

"I believe it's a terrible error in the United States, a terrible error in the history of the United States. I thought America is an institution and democracy. It [the ban] is just like Saddam Hussein's decisions," Faud Suleman said.

"I am shocked beyond words. This will mean that my new husband will never be able to join me in the US," said Fatima Ashkir, a Somali-American woman from Florida who went to Mogadishu to marry her Somali boyfriend.

Ahmed Abdullahi, a university student in Mogadishu said this will have serious impacts on international US-Muslim relations.

Olympic champion Mo Farah also slammed the ban. Farah who was born in Somalia – one of the countries on the list – but has lived in the US for the past five years posted his criticism on Facebook.

However, some far-right groups have welcomed Trump’s executive order. In Australia, far-right protesters have rallied in the city of Sydney on Sunday, waving placards in support of Trump and demanding a ban on Muslim immigration to their own country as well.​

Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Saturday that Trump's decision "will not make America safer, it will make America smaller and meaner."

Reaction from the world of tech

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday that was he was "concerned" and voiced support for immigrants. 

Google urgently called back employees from overseas and told ones who might be affected by the ban not to leave the US. CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to staff that more than 100 Google employees were affected by the order, according to a Google executive.

Microsoft Corp President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a company-wide email posted on LinkedIn that 76 company employees were citizens of the seven countries in question and held US work visas, and thus were directly affected by the order.

"This ban will impact many innocent people," said Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber Technologies, who said he would raise the issue at a White House meeting on Friday.

Netflix Inc Chief Executive Reed Hastings called it "a sad week" and added, "It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity."

​Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky tweeted: 

Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook has sent a letter to employees saying Trump's order was "not a policy we support" and promised to help affected employees.

Elon Musk, the South African-born founder of Tesla and SpaceX, also expressed his dismay on Twitter: 

 

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies