Belgium ‘disagrees with’ Trump’s refugee ban

Summary

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel says his government disagrees with the decision to ban refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, while a protest is planned in central Brussels today

Bourgeois: ‘Unacceptable’

Prime minister Charles Michel has expressed his government’s “disagreement” with the decision by US President Donald Trump to impose a temporary ban on accepting refugees from seven majority-Islamic countries. “Belgium will not be following the example and will be seeking further information via diplomatic channels,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, opponents to the ban plan a protest on Beursplein in the centre of Brussels at 12.00 today. “President Trump issued formal bans on entry to the US for all refugees (people fleeing a war) and people from seven Muslim-majority countries,” organisers said. “It’s a violation of general human rights principles, completely unnecessary and antithetical to our political and economic goals.”

The ban, passed by executive order requiring only a presidential signature, imposes a temporary stop on arrivals to the country from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. This was applied not only to those who had already been granted refugee status but also to permanent residents of foreign nationality, known as green card holders, whose access to the US is supposed to be assured.

Both new arrivals and green card holders were being held at immigration in airports across the US or stopped from boarding US-bound flights at foreign airports. In response, Canada issued an invitation to all those excluded from entry to the US.

The following day, Trump’s executive order was suspended by a federal judge. Critics pointed out that no citizens of the countries concerned were responsible for terrorist attacks on the US or on its citizens since 11 September 2001.

The countries whose citizens were responsible for terrorist attacks – principally Saudi Arabia and Egypt – were not covered by the ban. Media sources have confirmed that Trump has business interests in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“This seems to me to be unacceptable,” Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois told VRT. “I’m slightly reluctant to react to what the media is reporting. This has to be looked into properly.”

The ban on people in possession of a green card or visa was, he said, “unacceptable”, while the 90-day suspension on refugees appeared to be in breach of the Geneva Conventions.

Photo: Alex Milan Tracy/Anadolu Agency