‘It’s not a Muslim ban... it’s working out very nicely’

President Donald Trump defended his executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries

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President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

"It's not a Muslim ban," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he signed several executive orders.


In the executive order signed Friday, Trump halted the arrival of refugees for at least 120 days and imposed tough new controls on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen for the next three months.

"It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over," Trump told reporters, after travelers from those countries were stopped from boarding US-bound planes, triggering angry protests at airports.

"We're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting which we should have had in this country for many years."

Outrage in France

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday warned his new US counterpart against adopting a protectionist stance and called on him to respect the principle of accepting refugees.

During a telephone conversation between the two leaders Hollande stressed the "economic and political consequences of a protectionist approach", the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

"Faced with an unstable and uncertain world, withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response," Hollande was quoted as saying.

He added that defending democratic principles required compliance with "the principles on which it is founded, in particular the acceptance of refugees".

British disagreement

British Prime Minister Theresa May does "not agree" with the restrictions on immigration imposed by Trump and will intervene if they affect UK nationals, Downing Street said Sunday.

"Immigration policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States, just the same as immigration policy for this country should be set by our government," a spokesman said.

"But we do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking. If there is any impact on UK nationals then clearly we will make representations to the US government about that."

May had sparked controversy in Britain on Saturday after refusing to condemn the order by Trump to suspend refugee arrivals, saying Washington was responsible for its own immigration policy.

"The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees. The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees," May said at a news conference during a trip to Ankara.

Meanwhile an MP from May’s Conservative Party on Saturday revealed he would be barred from entering the US under Trump’s clampdown.

Spicer responds

But White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday defended Trump’s latest executive order on immigration and refugee vetting, arguing that the Obama administration originally flagged the seven “countries of particular concern.”

“The Obama administration put these first and foremost,” Spicer told ABC’s This Week.

In February, 2016, the Obama administration added Libya, Yemen and Somalia to a list of “countries of concern” with respect to its visa waiver program.

The release from the Department of Homeland Security notes that Iran, Syria, Iraq and Sudan were already included in the list. Spicer said on Sunday there were many other Muslim-majority countries not included in the ban.

“There’s 46 Muslim-majority countries that are not in this seven,” he said.

(With AFP, AP and Reuters)

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