President Donald Trump’s executive order — which bans all immigrants and visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days, bans all refugee admissions for 120 days, and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely — sent shockwaves around the world, as politicians and leaders scrambled to come to grips with the ramifications of the sweeping new policy.
Longstanding US allies jumped on social media to condemn what they saw as a deeply immoral policy aimed at dividing people and communities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended an offer to accept refugees spurned by the US, and several European leaders followed suit.
Meanwhile, politicians and leaders from some of the countries targeted by the ban — namely, Iran and Iraq — were furious and threatened retaliation. And far-right leaders in Europe, whose rise to prominence has been largely built on anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment at home, celebrated Trump’s move.
Here’s a quick roundup of the reactions from key foreign leaders. It presents a pretty unflattering perspective of America right now.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
Deeply concerned about US decision not to allow entry of people from certain countries. Creates mistrust between people.— Margot Wallström (@margotwallstrom) January 28, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May was at the White House Friday, the same day Trump signed the immigration executive order for a state visit. In their conversation, she tried to forge a friendly relationship with Trump, and offered a rather weak objection to the ban:
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London who also happens to be a Muslim and a son of Pakistani immigrants, had much stronger words, calling Trump’s ban “shameful and cruel” in a Facebook post on Sunday:
Boris Johnson, the UK’s brash and irreverent foreign secretary from the Conservative party, tweeted that the policy was “divisive and wrong”:
We will protect the rights and freedoms of UK nationals home and abroad. Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 29, 2017
A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has faced stiff criticism at home for her decision to allow large numbers of Syrian refugees into Germany, said the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for the ban and "does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion," Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, “She expressed her concerns to Trump during a phone call and reminded him that the Geneva Conventions require the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds.”
In France, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment is running high, particularly after a series of high-profile terror attacks including the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting, the November 2015 attacks in Paris, and the July 2016 truck attack in Nice. Yet French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had strong words for Trump, saying that "Terrorism knows no nationality. Discrimination is no response," according to Reuters.
Breaking: Iraqi parliament to discuss retaliatory blocking of visas for all Americans, including contractors & journalists (MoFA source)— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 28, 2017
Iraq parliament Foreign Affairs committee calls reciprocal suspension of US visas for contractors & others a probability. pic.twitter.com/VjfQREhl5e— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 28, 2017
The influential and highly controversial Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — whose militia waged war against American troops throughout the US occupation — said in a statement on his website that American nationals should leave Iraq, in retaliation for the travel curbs.
"It would be arrogance for you to enter freely Iraq and other countries while barring to them the entrance to your country … and therefore you should get your nationals out," Reuters reported him saying.
The reaction in Tehran was very similar to the reaction from Baghdad. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to lay out his government’s response in a series of fiery tweets:
#MuslimBan will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters.1/7— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
Collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening fault-lines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks. 2/7— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
International community needs dialogue & cooperation to address the roots of violence & extremism in a comprehensive & inclusive manner. 3/7— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
#MuslimBan shows baselessness of U.S. claims of friendship with the Iranian people while only having issues with the Government. 4/7— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
While respecting Americans & differentiating between them &hostile U.S. policies, Iran will take reciprocal measures to protect citizens.5/7— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
Unlike the U.S., our decision is not retroactive. All with valid Iranian visa will be gladly welcomed. #MuslimBan 7/7— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
Geert Wilders, the founder and leader of the far-right Party for Freedom who was put on trial several times for hate speech against Muslims and immigrants and convicted in 2016 of “insulting an ethnic group and inciting discrimination” after he led chants against Moroccans, weighed in too. He tweeted in support of Trump’s ban, calling on him to expand it to include even more Muslim countries: