By SIMON MARKS
Leaders react to the president’s order to ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The White House move, which sparked protests at airports and legal challenges in the U.S., looks likely to strain the transatlantic alliance at the start of the Trump presidency. Merkel has pledged to work with the new American leader to shore up that alliance, while May is seeking to build a close relationship as Britain gets ready to leave the EU.
Heightening their discomfort, the new American president’s rhetoric and now actions on Muslim migration echo the positions of Europe’s far-right parties, which pose a challenge to the Continent’s political establishment.
In the past two years, it is the EU and not the U.S. that has repeatedly been hit by terror attacks carried out by people who claim allegiance to the Islamic State, most recently last month in Berlin. Europe has a much bigger population of Muslims than the U.S. does and has seen hundreds of thousands of migrants, many of them from war-torn countries in the Middle East, seek refuge in their countries.
These considerations were reflected in Merkel’s response to Trump. The German chancellor spoke to the new president by telephone on Saturday and their joint statement didn’t mention his executive order on migrants from Muslim countries. On Sunday morning, her spokesman issued a cautiously worded statement expressing “regret” about the move. It seemed aimed at a domestic and European audience more than Trump.
Britain’s Prime Minister May faced backlash at home after her embrace of Trump in Washington Friday. The White House issued its order only hours after she left. Asked about it by the traveling press corps three separate times at her next stop in Ankara, May refused to criticize Trump. By the time she arrived in London late Saturday night, her spokesman issued a statement to say the British government did not agree with the ban.
“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,” the statement said. “But we do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking.”
As part of its reaction to the new administration’s approach on immigration, Britain will make so-called “representations” to the U.S. government to protect the rights of British citizens looking to enter the Unites States, the statement added.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, however, lauded Trump for his decision. “He’s fully entitled to do this and as far as we’re concerned in this country, yes I would like to see extreme vetting,” Farage told Andrew Neil on BBC One’s Sunday Politics show.
The executive action affects nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen but not Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It also suspends the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days. A judge blocked deportations of those who were being held at U.S. airports.
France’s President François Hollande said Saturday he intended to have a “firm discussion” with Trump regarding his policy and urged EU countries to respond. Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, who broke away from the Socialist party to start his own political movement, said on Twitter: “I stand with the people fleeing war and persecution. I stand with the people defending our values.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a practicing Muslim, on Sunday morning called the ban “shameful and cruel.”
The mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, criticized Trump’s policies on migration, including his stated promise to build a wall along the Mexican border. “I call on the American President: remember your forerunner, Ronald Reagan. Remember his words: ‘Tear down this wall’,” he wrote. “And so I say: ‘Mr. President, don’t build this wall.’”
Source: http://www.politico. eu/article/us-president- donald-trump-refugee-ban- stirs-european-unease- condemnation/