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Little scathing of PM's response to Trump's Muslim ban

Newstalk ZB Staff,
Publish Date
Monday, 30 January 2017, 10:40AM
Bill English attended the premiere of Pork Pie over the weekend, and has so far remained silent on the ban (Getty Images)

UPDATED 7PM: Bill English has stopped short of condemning Donald Trump's ban on Muslims entering the United States from several countries, including war ravaged Syria.

LISTEN ABOVE: Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper discusses New Zealand's position on the Muslim ban with Rachel Smalley.

The Prime Minister says he doesn't agree with the policy but denies this country's response is meek when compared to other leaders around the world.

"We're not being meek at all. Look, President Trump's got to deal with his own issues and his own election promises. We don't agree with the policy."

He says the world has yet to see what will turn out to be the long term immigration policy for the United States, given that the ban on Muslims is a temporary measure put in place for the next 90 days.

However, the Leader of the Opposition's taking the Government to task over its response.

Labour Leader Andrew Little's scathing of the inadequate response, particularly Foreign Minister McCully's reference that the US policy has teething problems.

"The idea that you're detaining people, effectively imprisoning them, who have already been cleared to enter the States, who've been vetted, that's not teething problems, that's a policy that's just wrong in the first place."

However, English said he is being critical of the United States' immigrant ban, in confirming that New Zealand wouldn't put such a ban in place.

"In the same way as other leaders have indicated, we welcome our refugees and migrants wherever they come from. We're not going to discriminate amongst them in this sort of way depending on what country they come from."

Citing the need to stop "radical Islamic terrorism", Trump signed an executive order over the weekend blocking entry to anyone from seven Muslim-majority states: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Syria and Yemen. The refugee intake programme has been suspended for 120 days.

READ MORE: Andrew Dickens: Some half-truths of the Trump presidency

READ MORE: Global backlash against Trump's draconian Muslim ban

The decree led to chaos at airports around the US, with Homeland Security detaining green card holders as well as immigrants and refugees. Demonstrators assembled outside airports calling for the detainees' immediate release.

Many people, including those with dual citizenship, were turned away at the border. However a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union brought a halt to any deportations.

The Council for International Development, an organisation that represents New Zealand's international aid agencies argues that Trump's executive order is a breach of international law, and insists that Prime Minister Bill English should make a public statement of opposition to the ban.

"He can stand up and take that risk because he is in good company," director Josie Pagani said. "Nearly every important global leader across the world has stood up today and said this is not okay, this is not acceptable."

Pagani also said English should also commit to defending the rights of any New Zealanders from affected countries who may be denied entry to the United States.

That call is being backed by opposition parties, the government's support partner United Future, and the Human Rights Commission.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully has stated the ban has caused “considerable concern” but stopped short of criticising the move.

“It is clear that the immigration announcements out of the US are causing widespread confusion and considerable concern," McCully said.

“While we respect the right of the US administration to determine US immigration policy these are not initiatives that New Zealand would contemplate.

“It is also clear that the implementation is subject to significant teething problems.”

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said they had not received any requests for consular assistance as a result of the ban, but said anyone needing advice regarding travel to the US should first contact the US Consulate General in Auckland.

"We are unable to intervene in the visa decisions or policy of other countries," the spokesperson said.

Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the US-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, told Mike Hosking this morning the bans will completely change how certain cultures are viewed.

"They're eroding American pluralism," he said. "I really don't know where they want to take this other than forming a racial heirarchy in America which obviously will cause even more detrimental issues for all of us, not just Muslims."

Salam al-Marayati believes this inequality will be used by the Islamic State and other extremist factions to argue its message that the United States government is deliberately oppressing Muslims.




ON AIR: Andrew Dickens Monday Afternoons

12PM - 4PM