London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the British government to withdraw its invitation to U.S. President Donald Trump to visit the U.K. later this year in light of the president's executive order barring the admission to citizens of seven Muslim countries from the United States.
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"In the aftermath of his shameful and cruel ban on immigrants and refugees from certain countries this week - which will affect millions around the world - I have no choice but to speak out," wrote Khan, who is Muslim and the son of Pakistani immigrant parents, in an opinion piece that appeared on the London Evening Standard.
Khan, who came out publicly in support of Trump's Democratic Party challenger, Hillary Clinton, during the election campaign, wrote that he had refrained from criticizing the newly elected president "out of respect for the democratic will of the people of the U.S. and in the hope that President Trump would govern more moderately and sensibly than he campaigned."
Writing that the United States will be the poorer for being deprived of the benefit of immigrants barred from the country, Khan, who was elected last year, added: "[Trump's executive order] plays straight into the evil hands of Islamic State and other terrorists and extremists, who are trying to convince desperate young people across the world that Islam and the West are incompatible, that we are somehow their enemy."
"Our job is to show just how wrong they are - to prove that Muslims can succeed, flourish and practice their religion freely and peacefully in the West. The Prime Minister [Theresa May] must be clear with President Trump that his actions are unacceptable for a liberal, open democracy. And we should not be seen to be endorsing them."
"That is why we must now rescind the offer of a full state visit for President Trump - until this ban is lifted. I don’t believe the people of London will support rolling out the red carpet until this happens."
President Donald Trump’s executive order bars the entry for 90 days of nearly all foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. It suspends the admission into the United States of all refugees, regardless of their country of origin, for 120 days and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. Since the order was issued, Trump administration officials have indicated that exceptions would be made, for at least some foreign nationals who are permanent U.S. residents, for example.
Reuters quoted a U.S. official who said the pause on travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen is a response to concerns that immigration and refugee programs are being abused. The Trump administration is developing stricter rules for vetting people who want to come to the United States. The executive order also seeks to give priority to refugees fleeing religious persecution, a move Trump separately said was aimed at helping Christians in Syria, but leading some legal experts to question whether the order was constitutional for discriminating based on religion.
In addition to the London mayor, other British political leaders including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democratic Party leader Tim Farron have called for the invitation to Trump to be rescinded. An online petition to the British parliament, which has attracted sufficient signatures to require that it be considered by parliament, also calls for the visit to be scrapped, adding that it is an embarrassment to Queen Elizabeth. As of Monday afternoon Israel time, it had attracted more than 1.2 million signatures.
With reporting by Reuters.