“Diversity is our strength”: the world hits back at Trump’s immigration ban

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Kayleigh Dray
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Love continues to trump hate.

On Friday, Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order that halts refugees from entering the country, as well as immigrants from seven “majority-Muslim countries,” including Syria, Somalia, and Iran. 

Gillian Christensen, the acting Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, told Reuters this action also applies to green card holders – which means that 218 million people have effectively been banned from the United States of America.

The backlash was immediate; since Trump’s controversial anti-Muslim ban was made public, thousands upon thousands have spoken out against it.

And the overriding message has been one of love, acceptance, and solidarity.

Here, we round up just some of the people who have rejected the US President’s divisive policy amid international outrage over the move.

World leaders speak out

In a stark contrast to Trump’s stance on immigration, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror, and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.

“Diversity is our strength.”

Trudeau went on to share a poignant photograph of himself with a young refugee, writing: “Welcome to Canada.”

Scotland’s Nicola Strugeon agreed with Trudeau, writing: “Welcome to Scotland, too.”

Meanwhile Labour  leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for Trump to be be banned from making his planned state visit to the UK later this year.

Speaking on ITV1’s Peston on Sunday, Corbyn said: “Is it really right to endorse somebody who has used this awful misogynist language throughout the election campaign, awful attacks on Muslims, and then this absurd idea of building a wall with their nearest neighbour?”

His words have clearly resonated with UK citizens, as a petition calling on UK government to cancel Donald Trump’s planned state visit has reached a landmark one million signatures and counting.

The UK Government is compelled to respond to all petitions that received more than 10,000 signatures and if a petition reaches 100,000, it must be considered for a debate in Westminster Hall.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to become the mayor of a major Western capital, took to Facebook to slam Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ as “shameful and cruel.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, speaking at a news conference in Paris, also publicly denounced Trump’s actions. It comes as a spokesperson confirmed German chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Trump over the weekend to “explain” the terms of the Geneva refugee convention

In an unprecedented move, The Church World Service has released a statement signed by more than 2,000 faith leaders decrying the “derogatory language that has been used about Middle Eastern refugees and our Muslim friends and neighbours.

“Inflammatory rhetoric has no place in our response to this humanitarian crisis,” they wrote. “The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been and should remain open to those of all nationalities and religions who face persecution on account of the reasons enumerated under U.S. law.”

Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, penned a powerful open letter to Theresa May, asking the UK Prime Minister to “speak out” against Trump.

“You must speak up,” she wrote. “Donald Trump’s ban on the citizens of seven countries and suspension of the US refugee programme is not, as you suggested, simply a domestic matter. It is a shockwave that shatters the lives of thousands of women and children.

“It demonises all Muslims while acting as recruiting sergeant for the extremists he claims it will block. Your silence allows the U.S. President to build walls around all our lives.”

Public figures fight back

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai condemned Trump in an emotional public statement.

“I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” she wrote.

“I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life.”

Yousafzai first rose to fame in 2012 after she was shot by members of the Taliban for arguing that women in her native country of Pakistan had a right to an education. She later started The Malala Fund to improve girls' education around the world and, at age 17, became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel prize.

“I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled-out for discrimination,” she continued.

“In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenceless children and families.”

Olympic athlete Sir Mo Farah penned a Facebook post explaining that he moved from Somalia to the UK as a young boy – one of the seven country’s included in Trump’s ban.

He has since made his home in the USA’s Oregon with his family – but is currently training in Ethiopia. And he fears that, when he does try to return to his wife and young children, there’s a strong chance that he will not be allowed back.

“President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien,” says Farah. “It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home - to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.”

Writing in a Facebook post of his own, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg added: “We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help.

“That's who we are. Had we turned away refugees a few decades ago, [my wife] Priscilla's family wouldn't be here today.”

Celebrities join the cause

The likes of Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez, Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian, and countless others have taken to Twitter to tackle the “alternative facts” presented by Trump’s administration – as well as spread messages of love and friendship to Muslims.

Kardashian, easily dismantling Trump’s argument that such a ban would help to “keep America safe”, shared some important statistics on Twitter.

DeGeneres added: “For me, America is great because of all the people who came here. Not in spite of them.”

Lopez took to Instagram to share an image of a placard emblazoned with the words ‘we are all immigrants’.

She captioned it by saying: “Honestly I feel like we are in a nightmare right now. In a country founded by immigrants how did immigrant become a bad word?”

Cyrus, along with a string of brightly coloured hearts, called upon her followers to “stand with immigrants”.

JK Rowling, meanwhile, turned her attention to Prime Minister May and her frustratingly ‘soft’ stance on Trump.

“[To] Americans telling me how ashamed they are,” she wrote, “you’ve got a lot of company across the Atlantic today.”

The general public unite in outrage

Thousands of protesters were seen marching, chanting, and waving signs across the USA over the weekend, as grass-root protests sprung up across the country.

Gathering at airports, city landmarks, and political buildings, they sang the words: “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”

Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea joined the protesters in New York. 

At airports, the crowds waved signs in solidarity with travellers stuck inside - including students, doctors, professors and refugees. They cheered as those detained by security left airports and were reunited with loved ones. 

They were joined by a large number of immigration lawyers from the International Refugee Assistance Project, who voluntarily gathered at the country’s airports in a bid to offer help to refugees.

Legal experts were seen standing in arrival terminals with signs, written in English, Arabic, and other languages, offering their assistance to anyone affected by the ban.

“It occurred to us that there were going to be people who were traveling who would land and have their status affected while in mid-air,” said Betsy Fisher, the group’s policy director, told the New York Times.

Cecillia Wang, the company’s deputy legal director, added that lawyers weren’t just working at the airports; others headed to the office to tackle the litigation.

Describing the scene as “complete chaos”, she said: “I was sitting at my desk working on a template habeas petition that could be used by lawyers at airports all around the country.”

A New York-based federal judge has since blocked part of the Republican's temporary immigration ban, ordering authorities to stop deporting refugees and other travellers stuck at US airports.

However the Department of Homeland Security shrugged off the court ruling, saying it will  have little impact on “overall implementation” of Trump's order.

Omar Jadwat, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrant Rights Project, which worked on the petition that led to the judge’s stay, said the litigation had not been prepared ahead of time.

“That was not something we had on the shelf ready to go, waiting for the right plaintiffs to come along,” he said. “It was a case of: There’s this emergency, and people have to work together to figure out a response as quickly as we can so that these people and other people around the country didn’t get deported.”

In a statement posted on Facebook, Trump took the media to task for calling the policy a "Muslim ban," and said his new policy was “similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”

Trump added: “This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.