Monday 22 January 2018

Fears that 'chilling' Muslim ban will be copied elsewhere

Sahar Ali, who is originally from Sudan. Photo: Arthur Carron
Sahar Ali, who is originally from Sudan. Photo: Arthur Carron

Gavin White

US President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven mainly Muslim countries is a "chilling example that other countries may imitate", the CEO of the Irish Refugees Council has warned.

Nick Henderson said he and his organisation were "hugely concerned" by Mr Trump's immigration ban and condemned it in the strongest terms.

"The ban is contrary to the values of generosity and tolerance that underpin the US's refugee resettlement programme," he said. "(Former) president (Barack) Obama had recently pledged that the US would resettle 111,000 people in 2017, including around 10,000 Syrian people. The US is also a significant funder of the UN refugee agency.

"Most worryingly, this ban could result in the loss of life as people lose a crucial route to safety and security from situations of profound danger.

"Refugee protection exists to ensure people are safe from persecution, it is a cornerstone of international law. Mr Trump has, in one executive order, undermined these essential principles."

Yahya al-Hussein from the Islamic Foundation of Ireland said that the imposed ban on Muslims entering the US was "a disgrace".

"For a leading nation to resort to this type of law is very disappointing and it is important that other nations react well," he told the Irish Independent. "It is so important that other nations call on people to get together and practise the fundamentals of liberty.

"I have seen nothing of this scale of discrimination, for no good reason at all, before."

Mr al-Hussein, who is 60 years old, was born in Sudan but has lived in Ireland for the past 30 years.

"To see citizens who have never been involved in violence discriminated against in this way is truly disappointing," he said.

Sahar Ali, a 26-year-old student who has dual citizenship for Ireland and Sudan, said "it is bizarre to see this ban in the 21st century".

Ms Ali currently has family members in the US who she said "can't leave now, as once they leave they will not be able to go back".

"It's incredible, there are so many great Sudanese businessmen in the States who are benefiting the business community there and then this happens," she said.

Ms Ali moved to Ireland in 1997 following a year in Saudi Arabia and five years in Scotland, but her mother and father are both Sudanese.

"One thing I fear is a spread of this mentality. As soon as the ban was announced, a mosque in Texas was burned down, so I worry it will trickle across.

"If I went to America my mother would be very worried but now I absolutely would think twice about going," she said.

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 people have signed a petition in the last 24 hours calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to refuse to visit the White House on St Patrick's Day.

Siobhán O'Donoghue, director of Uplift, which organised the petition, said: "People in Ireland are disgusted by the behaviour of Mr Trump since he became president nine days ago, and want to see Enda Kenny show real leadership."

Irish Independent

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