Has Trump’s seven-nation ban been misunderstood?
There seems to have been a distinct lack of clarity surrounding the finer details of the ban
Every country has a right to defend its borders, but there has to be a better way than the approach Donald Trump has taken with his blanket ban of nationals from the seven listed countries.
It seems to me to be simple, if the US granted people visas to live and work in America, then it is surely wrong to renege on that deal, apparently without any notice period for those who had planned for their trip or already have a home there.
And there seems to have been a distinct lack of clarity surrounding the finer details of the ban, which has led to confusion and that, in my view, is simply unacceptable when it is impacting so many people. From the outset it seemed that anyone traveling into the US, who was from one of the seven nations would be prevented from entering including those with dual nationality or Green cards – no one seemed to know, including world leaders.
If reports are correct there are many people who have lived in the US legally for years, who have been prevented from boarding planes or detained on arrival at the United States since the ban was imposed. No one seems to know whether these people are actually allowed back in.
People I know from Syria, Iraq and Iran who have US or Canadian passports, seem unclear as to whether they are able to travel into America without issue. There’s even claim that the executive order received little or no vetting before it was signed off - the current confusion would seem to reinforce that view. And rushed through, reactionary policy is always riddled with problems.
What has been created, in my view, is an explanation for anti-American rhetoric, which will not bring peace to the free world, but provide an excuse for those already hostile towards the US to up the antePeter Harrison
Causing more tensions
What’s more a ‘one size fits all’ approach could potentially cause more problems in the long term. Last year I argued that the French ban on the burka was counterproductive – that if anything, it would stir up tensions, perhaps even provoke further hostility towards the French. The ban certainly didn’t lead to an end in attacks on French soil by terrorists.
Likewise, I would suggest that a blanket ban on every person from the countries listed by Trump, can only lead to further tensions - not less. What has been created, in my view, is an explanation for anti-American rhetoric, which will not bring peace to the free world, but provide an excuse for those already hostile towards the US to up the ante.
As 2016 drew to a close I started writing a piece that began with the comment: “If you thought 2016 was strange, wait until 2017.”
My initial aim of that piece was to focus on how while the Gulf Arab nations – not least Saudi Arabia – were making great advances to modernize, the Western world was about to embark on a set of policies and actions that were more in keeping with the 1960s and 1970s.
I was thinking at the time of Britain moving forward with its Brexit plan, France looking likely to see an increase in the popularity of the far-right and the countless unknown entities that would no doubt come from Donald Trump as president.
Four decades back while the GCC strides forward
Meanwhile Saudi Arabia seems to be striving to make itself a more open society, with national companies being floated on the open market. These are bold courageous steps that will only lead in my view, to good things happening for the kingdom and the wider GCC community.
I don’t think anyone quite imagined Trump would go ahead with his ban on Muslims that he proposed during his election campaign. Although he has been picking people up on a technicality on this one - saying that it is not a ‘Muslim ban’. Apparently this is a ban on countries that pose the most severe threat to the US.
But if this is a ban on countries that pose the greatest danger, then why not Afghanistan? And what about Chechnya? To name just two. Citizens from all these countries – and others - have connections to some of the worst terror attacks to take place on American soil.
And while there’s talk of expanding the ban to further countries – it still seems that there is no logic behind the first seven countries that were chosen. So far none of the seven have seen a single one of their citizens commit any form of terror attack on mainland America
Meanwhile one hopes that sooner, rather than later, the majority of the law abiding people caught up in the current strife will be released and allowed to get on with their lives as they did before. But if Trump’s rhetoric is anything to go by, I suspect it would be ill advised to hold your breath.
Peter Harrison is a British photojournalist whose career spans three decades, working for print, digital and broadcast media in the UK and the UAE. He's covered a broad spectrum of subjects, from health issues and farming in England, to the refugee crisis in Lebanon and the war in Afghanistan. He is a senior editor with Al Arabiya English and tweets @PhotoPJHarrison.