Making good on his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the US, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday entitled “Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” banning admission of refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia.
People from these countries are trying to escape conflict and chaos caused by Western nations – US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, proxy war in Syria, military intervention in Libya, and support for the Saudi-led Arab coalition bombing Yemen. Trump unwittingly acknowledged that fact when he said “we want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.” Fairness demands that the US and its allies take some responsibility for their actions by providing asylum to the innocent victims of their adventures in the Muslim world.
Trump’s executive order, without a doubt, is based on blatant bigotry. It exempts Syrian Christians from applying for refugee status. In an interview recorded before signing the anti-Muslim discriminatory order, he told the Christian Broadcast Network that he is going to help the Christian Syrians.
As usual, disregarding the need to cite evidence for preferring Christian refugees over Muslim refugees he claimed that the previous administration sympathised with Muslims saying “…if you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible … I thought that it was very, very unfair so we are going to help them.” The reality though is very different.
As noted by the Pew Research Centre, the US admitted almost as many Christian refugees (37,521) as Muslim refugees (38,901) during the 2016 fiscal year-this despite the fact that Syria is a Muslim majority country. While making a case for Christian migrants, the US President also seemed to question the loyalty of his country’s Muslim citizens when he averred “we only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.” No wonder the Council on American-Islamic relations has promised to file a law suit challenging Trump’s discriminatory order.
The America Liberties Union too has issued a statement pointing out that “identifying specific countries with Muslim majorities and carving out exceptions for minority religions flies in the face of the constitutional principle that bans the government from either favouring or discriminating against particular religions.”
This and some of the other controversial executive orders and actions are a prelude to deeply divisive changes the Trump administration is to bring to public policy. For now, President of the United States has amply demonstrated he is no different from narrow-minded religious chauvinists elsewhere in the world.
The present ban, coming as it does in the wake of Western military interventions in Muslim counties that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and rendered millions homeless, will only exacerbate tensions and provide a propaganda boost to religious extremists on the other side. -Business Recorder