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Jamaican Muslim leader speakers out against Trump's ban

SPEAKING OUT: Sheikh Musa Tijani (photo credit: Jamaica Observer)

A LEADER of the Muslim community in Jamaica has ripped into United States President Donald Trump, declaring yesterday that the American commander-in-chief's decision to temporarily bar entry to nationals from "terror-prone" countries was an act of "undoubted discrimination".

Sheikh Musa Tijani, Director and Head of Education for the Islamic Council of Jamaica, told The Gleaner yesterday that he disagreed with the way the United States had gone about the implementation of the restriction.

"When you (do something) like that, you are supposed to allow those who are already on their way to enter, so it will not cause embarrassment and disrespect. The way he did it, is not right, It's discrimination I have no doubt about it," said Tijani.

In his first visit to the Pentagon since his January 20 inauguration, Trump signed a seven-page executive order titled Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States last Friday, making good on his campaign promise of "extreme vetting" of migrants and refugees.

The executive order, which collectively affects approximately 218 million people, calls for the immediate suspension of immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries - Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen - for a period of 90 days.

It also calls for the suspension of acceptance of Syrian refugees for an indefinite period.

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS: A protest sign in London
Said Tijani:

"Arrogance is not a part of leadership. It is not right for him to pass judgment on all Muslims. Those persons carrying out acts of terrorism like ISIS and Boko Haram are not practising the Islamic concept. This thing (terrorism) affects everyone, it's not only America. Banning persons that already have families in the US, persons that are innocent and have never committed any crime in their home country or the US, is wrong."

Weighing in on the subject, which has drawn international scrutiny and backlash for the new Trump administration, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith told The Gleaner that the Jamaican Government would continue to monitor the interpretation of the executive order.

"As far as we are aware, the scope of the order and its interpretation is under litigation. So we will continue to maintain close contact with our missions in the US to monitor developments as this unfolds.

"As far as we know, Jamaica is not impacted by it and we continue to monitor as the interpretation unfolds according to the courts," Johnson Smith stated.

Johnson Smith was not able to provide information on the number of persons residing in Jamaica who would be affected because of their citizenship status in relation to any of the seven targeted nations.

On Saturday, immigration lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups flocked to airports across the US to voice their disapproval that individuals had arrived with valid immigrant visas and were being detained.

FLYING HIGH: A Caribbean Airlines aircraft in flight (photo credit: Caribbean National Weekly)

Subsequently, a New York federal judge, appointed to the bench by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, temporarily blocked part of the president's immigration order.

Ann M. Donnelly ruled that authorities could not remove individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries who had arrived in US airports after the order had been issued.

Up to yesterday, judges in three other states (Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington) had taken a similar stance.

In speaking on the topic of advising nationals of the seven territories beforehand that they would be denied entry into the US, Dionne Ligoure, head of corporate communications for Caribbean Airlines, told The Gleaner:

"Caribbean Airlines observes the rules and regulations of all the jurisdictions in which it operates."

Tijani cited stronger relations with Muslim leaders as the long-term solution to the problem of terrorism.

"(Trump is) the president and we have to abide by his rules, and I hope no one does anything stupid.

"However, instead of banning all these persons, he should try to forge relationships with the Muslim leaders and try to fight the problem together.

"I say to all Muslims, exercise patience and try not to become frustrated. Adhere to the teachings of the Qur'an and introduce correct Islam to your community and families in this time where you are being tested."

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