MUSLIM WORLD REACTS

Iran dubs US ban a 'great gift to extremists' that aids recruitment

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attending a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (not pictured) in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec 7, 2016.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attending a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (not pictured) in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec 7, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

TEHERAN • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said yesterday that US President Donald Trump's decision to ban arrivals from seven Muslim-majority countries was "a great gift to extremists".

"#MuslimBan will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters," he said as part of a string of tweets.

"Collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening fault lines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks."

Mr Trump last Friday signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and bar visas for travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Iran's Foreign Ministry had earlier released a statement saying it would reciprocate with a ban on Americans entering the country.

But Mr Zarif said that the restrictions would not apply to Americans who already have a valid visa.

"Unlike the US, our decision is not retroactive. All with valid Iranian visa will be gladly welcomed," he wrote.

With more than one million Iranians living in the United States, the travel restrictions are expected to cause chaos for students, businessmen and families travelling between the two countries.

The Foreign Ministry released a travel advisory, calling on all citizens travelling to the US to "make completely sure" before leaving that they will not face obstacles.

Travel agents in Teheran said on Saturday that they had been instructed by foreign airlines, including Emirates, Etihad and Turkish Airlines, not to sell US tickets and that Iranians holding American visas were not being allowed to board US-bound flights.

 

In Iraq, two members of the Iraqi Parliament, who declined to be identified, said yesterday that they plan to lobby against the new restrictions on travel to the US by Iraqis, arguing that the two countries need to preserve their alliance against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The Iraqi government itself has so far declined to comment on an executive order signed by Mr Trump.

Influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr also said on his website yesterday that American nationals should leave Iraq, in retaliation for the new travel curbs.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Iran dubs US ban a 'great gift to extremists' that aids recruitment'. Print Edition | Subscribe