Global opposition to US President Donald Trump intensified on Sunday as world leaders condemned the move to temporarily limit immigration from what are predominantly Muslim countries, while Germany pledged to play a bigger role on the international stage.
World leaders including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Trump and said their
nations won’t change their immigration policies.
“We do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking,” May said Sunday in a statement, two days after meeting Trump to begin work on a trade accord.
The growing condemnation exposed dividing lines with US allies and wasn’t limited to the world of
politics: Netflix Inc.’s chief executive officer said the changes were “un-American,” while Alphabet Inc.’s Google advised staff who may be impacted by the order to return to the US immediately.
Iran “will reciprocate with legal, consular and political undertakings,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The ban is a “visible insult to” to Muslims, the agency said.
The president’s move was stymied on Saturday when two judges temporarily blocked his administration from enforcing the order that would have led to the removal from US airports of refugees, visa holders and legal US residents from the seven countries. Trump said the measure would prevent terrorists from being admitted into the country.
Trudeau, in a tweet, said Canada would welcome those fleeting “persecution, terror and war. Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.” A similar message was sent by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who said refugees deserve a safe haven regardless of their background or religion.
Merkel expressed her concerns about a ban during a call with Trump on Saturday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Twitter post on Sunday. Merkel is convinced that the fight against terror doesn’t justify putting people from a specific place of origin or religion under general suspicion. Merkel last week said Germany would continue to pursue a global agenda.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Facebook called the ban “shameful and cruel” and said the new policy “flies in the face of the values of freedom and tolerance that the USA was built upon.” Mexico’s former President Vicente Fox said on Twitter that the executive order had “united the world” against Trump.
Under the order, the admission of refugees would be suspended for 120 days. Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the US for 90 days, while the government determined what information it needed from other countries to safely admit visitors. The order didn’t list the countries, but pointed to laws that cover those seven, which were provided by the White House.
US Democrats labeled it a “Muslim ban” and criticized it as inhumane. Absent from the order was a provision from a draft of the document, obtained by Bloomberg, that would have required the Defense Department to make a plan to create “safe zones” in Syria and neighboring countries for people fleeing that nation’s civil war.
Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, likened the ban to the country’s slow response to the Holocaust prior to US entry into World War Two. Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said the decision was unfair.
“Faced with the humanitarian crisis of our time, the United States cannot turn its back on children fleeing persecution, genocide and terror,” Durbin said in a statement calling Trump’s order a “ban on Muslims in the United States.” “During the Holocaust we failed to fulfill our duty to humanity,” he said. “We cannot allow mindless fear to lead us into another regretful chapter in our history.”
State Department data show that 34 Syrian Christian refugees were admitted into the US in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and 39 so far in the current fiscal year. By comparison, 12,486 Muslim Syrians were admitted in fiscal 2016 and 4,772 so far this year.
Syria is a majority Muslim nation, and US officials say that Christians fleeing the country’s civil war have largely wound up at refugee processing centers in areas the US government considers unsafe to work in.
Trump’s order would require the government “to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution.” Only people who are religious minorities in their countries would be eligible.
“There are Christians being processed, and processed at the same percentage at that which they apply for the program,” Lavinia Limon, president and chief executive officer of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, an advocacy group, said in a phone interview. “So they’re moving through the process exactly in the same percentage.”