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World leaders call Trump travel ban illegal and insulting

Posted at 7:23 AM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 07:23:33-05

World leaders and prominent figures have blasted US President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States as divisive, illegal, insulting and discriminatory.

Trump signed an executive order Friday barring citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan from entering the country for 90 days and also suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days. The order bans entry of those fleeing from war-torn Syria indefinitely.

While many countries have lambasted the ban, Muslim-majority nations not on the blacklist have remained largely silent. Australia, which has implemented hardline policies against refugees, was one of the few nations to voice support for the ban.

Here’s what some world figures had to say:

Countries on Trump’s banned list

Yemen: The ban is “not justified” and “supports the terrorists and sows divisions among people,” Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Abdel-Malak al-Mekhlafi posted on Twitter. The Foreign Ministry said that attempts to classify Yemeni citizens as a probable source for terrorism were “illegal and illegitimate.”

Sudan: “The Sudanese citizens living in the United States are known for their good reputation, respect for American laws, and their lack of involvement in radical and criminal acts,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said, adding that the Sudanese people are “heirs to the ancient Nile River civilization, which is marked by tolerance and peaceful coexistence.” The ministry called on Washington to remove Sudan from the US list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Iran: Trump’s immigration order is “insulting” and a “gift to extremists,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said. Iran will take “reciprocal measures in order to safeguard the rights of its citizens until the time of the removal of the insulting restrictions of the government of the United States against Iranian nationals.”

European allies

Britain: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the ban as “divisive and wrong,” while London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the move was “shameful and cruel.” Their comments came two days after British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first foreign leader to officially meet with Trump. May and Trump had celebrated their countries’ “special relationship” Friday, hours later the order was signed. May came under pressure from MPs to condemn the ban.

She eventually put out a statement saying her government did “not agree” with it, but said immigration was “a matter for the government of the United States.”

A petition on the UK Government and Parliament website to prevent Trump from making a state visit to the UK passed the one million mark on Monday morning.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel “deeply regrets the US President’s decision to ban refugees and immigration of certain countries from entering the United States,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “She is convinced that the necessary fight against terrorism does not justify to place people of certain nationalities or beliefs under general suspicion.”

Seibert said that Merkel called Trump Saturday to explain the US’ obligations under the Geneva Convention on refugees.

France: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that welcoming refugees was “a duty of solidarity.” “Terrorism doesn’t have a nationality; discrimination is not an answer,” he said on Twitter.

Canada, Australia

Canada: Closer to home, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the importance of welcoming refugees, without explicitly referring to Trump’s executive order. He said that those fleeing persecution, terror and war were welcome in Canada.

Australia: “It is vital that every nation is able to control who comes across its borders,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, becoming one of the few leaders to openly show support for the ban. Turnbull spoke to Trump on Sunday to discuss “the importance of border security and the threat of illegal and irregular migration.”

Under a “one-off” agreement, Australia plans to transfer hundreds of refugees currently held in offshore detention centers to the US. Some 1,300 people, including registered refugees, are being held in the Australian government centers on the Pacific Island nation of Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

Europe’s far-right cheers

Britain’s most vocal Brexit figure Nigel Farage welcomed Trump’s executive order. “He was elected to get tough. He was elected to say he would do everything in his power to protect America from infiltration by ISIS terrorists. There are seven countries on that list. He is entitled to do this. He was voted in on this,” Farage told the BBC.

Other far-right leaders in Europe also say they agree with the ban.

“No more immigration from any Islamic country is exactly what we need,” said far-right Party for Freedom founder and leader Geert Wilders on Twitter. “Also in The Netherlands Islam and freedom are incompatible.”

Nic Robertson and Angela Dewan wrote and reported from London, Azadeh Ansari wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Sebastian Shukla, Carol Jordan, Kevin Liptak, Allie Malloy, Merieme Arif, Zahra Ullah and Pamela Boykoff contributed to this report.