Tech & Rights

Trump Isn't Welcome in Belgium as Long as the 'Muslim Ban' Is in Force

The executive order on immigration signed by Donald Trump last week could have serious consequences for Belgian citizens and all Europeans. There are many ways to respond, but a "Trump ban" is a good way to start.

by David Morelli
Discriminating, absurd, cruel, dangerous, arbitrary, shameful: Trump's "Muslim ban," an executive order prohibiting access to the United States for all nationals from seven countries with a predominantly Muslim population (Yemen, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Iraq), is like a slap in the face by the new US president to human dignity and the democratic ideal.

The Belgian League of Human Rights (LDH) and the European Association for Human Rights (AEDH) note that these anti-immigration orders are likely to have serious consequences for some Belgian and European nationals, as many of our fellow citizens with dual citizenship (including Belgian citizenship and citizenship of one of the seven countries mentioned above) will no longer be allowed to enter the US as a result of Trump’s order.

'You're fired'

This situation is intolerable when these people have valid residency permit or visa. In this respect, the LDH welcomes the response given by the Belgian prime minister, who made clear that, on behalf of Belgium, he did not agree with this iniquitous legislation.

At a time when the Muslim community has been made the scapegoat by far-right political parties, the public outrage, the protests and legal actions that have followed Trump’s decision are quite reassuring.

Even Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General, instructed Department of Justice lawyers not to defend Trump’s executive order, as the order itself is regarded as illegal. The reaction was quick: Sally Yates was immediately fired by Trump.

There is nothing to feel reassured about this decision, and we must take action in order to make clear that we reject such Islamophobic and xenophobic policies. The fight against them must be stepped up.

'Trump ban'

The first step, which would be symbolic but also concrete, would be to respond to the Muslim ban with a "Trump ban." Pakistan just did so by canceling its invitation to him. So did the Labour Party in the UK, which called on Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel Trump's invitation for a state visit.

Now, LDH is calling on the Belgian government to refuse to invite President Trump for bilateral discussions, and to deny him access to Belgian territory even if he is invited by an NGO based in the country, as long as the immigration orders are in force.

LDH and AEDH believe that Europe must react even more firmly, as Trump is abjectly using the attacks that recently hit Europe in order to justify his policies.

If Europe and Belgium are widely blamed for their migration policies, which are contrary to the rights of migrants and refugees, we must nevertheless remind that when certain limits are exceeded, the country that crossed these limits does no longer deserve to be called a democracy.