The US presidential executive order placing a blanket ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority states and temporarily halting admission of all refugees was denounced as unlawful and dangerous by Minority Rights Group International (MRG), an organisation working to protect persecuted religious and other minorities in a number of the states in question.
US President Donald Trump announced on 27 January 2017 that his government is suspending its refugee programme for at least 120 days, cutting the number of refugees it is receiving and halting its Syrian refugee resettlement programme indefinitely. He has also passed a travel ban for nationals of seven Muslim-majority states.
‘The executive order is wrong in law and wrong in fact,’ emphasises Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director. The order violates US nationality and immigration law; it also breaches the US’s obligations under international law not to discriminate against refugees on grounds of religion. Over the weekend a New York federal judge halted the removal under the order of those who were legally authorised to enter the US, including from Iraq.
The sudden and drastic curtailment of the US’s refugee programme means that refugees already accepted for resettlement by the US now face an uncertain and often extremely threatening future. The US President’s reported comments about persecuted Christians was also inaccurate.
‘In Syria and Iraq, all communities are at risk, including Sunni Muslims who currently face gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,’ says Lattimer. ‘But by linking his actions to the cause of persecuted Christians, the US President is at risk of placing Christian communities in the Middle East in greater danger.’
MRG has worked for over a decade monitoring the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa. The organisation has also been monitoring Islamophobia in Europe, North America and Asia. After the US presidential election in November, MRG reported that Trump’s campaign had already led to a drastic increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US.
Lattimer concludes: ‘Trump’s presidential order represents a new low in Western Islamophobia.’
Notes to editors
- Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
- MRG launched its new 4-year strategy to coincide with the beginning of the new US administration. We will work tirelessly to counter persecution and promote inclusion around the world.
- Each year, MRG publishes its online survey Peoples under Threat which ranks countries according to the risk of violence or mass killing against marginalised communities.
For further information or to arrange interviews with Mark Lattimer
Carl Soderbergh, Director of Policy & Communications, Minority Rights Group International (London, UK)
T: +44 (0)2074224227
M: +44 (0)7837533675