Kate Burrows-Jones , North America Editor
A petition signed by over one million, among whom 800,000 are British, will require MPs to discuss whether US President Donald Trump should be banned from a state visit. Any petition presented to parliament with over 100,000 signatures is automatically debated by MPs. The anti-Trump petition will be debated on Thursday, February 20th at Westminster Hall not in the main Commons Chamber. The MPs will also debate another petition, signed by half a million people and put up on Monday night, welcoming Mr Trump to the UK. The outcome of the debate only carries moral weight but has no effect on Government policy. A Sky News poll said 49% of Britons believe Trump should stay home.
On Monday, after a weekend of protests and media outrage followed the US President’s travel ban, on the floor of Commons an emergency debate was called by the former Labour party leader Ed Miliband MP, urging the repeal the US President’s travel ban on the grounds that it is discriminatory:
“The ban is not an attack on terrorism; it is an attack on those of a particular religious faith: Muslims. It is clearly discriminatory, it represents a repudiation of the 1951 UN Geneva convention on refugees and it will not make the world a safer place—it will make it a more dangerous one. From the exchanges earlier, we can see that there is a host of unanswered questions relating to UK residents who have passports from the countries concerned. Given our close, historical alliance with the United States, it is particularly important that this Parliament speaks up—preferably with one voice—to seek to get this ban revoked. An emergency debate would represent an important opportunity to do this; indeed, it is for an eventuality such as this—a matter of pressing and immediate importance—that the Standing Orders were designed.”
Mr Miliband called for a coordinated European response.
Monday should have been a victory lap for the Government after a highly successful trip to the U.S. by Prime Minister Theresa May to meet the new President. She also delivered a rousing address at the Republican Party retreat which spoke to core shared values of the Conservative and Republican parties. At one point Mr Trump held Ms May’s hand to help her down a step. After the meeting he asked his aide to save the menu from their lunch so he could remember it. “Keep that safe”, he told an aide. “I had lunch with the British Prime Minister.” The President likes to keep menu cards to help remember significant moments.
Instead, views of the trip and the President expressed by various senior political figures at the House of Commons varied considerably throughout the day.
The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, “Nicolae Ceausescu and Robert Mugabe have been entertained by her Majesty the Queen and I think most members would concede that it is our duty and the right thing to do to make preparations now for receiving our friend, our partner, a the leader of a long established democracy and our most important ally.” It is a strong argument. Even the American president’s most vocal detractors would likely concede that Mr Trump is not the equivalent of Mugabe or Ceausescu.
Former Health minister Sir Simon Burns said everyone knows that candidate Trump had made his intentions clear in the campaign, “as well as building a wall, he was going to ban all Muslims—not security threats, but a religious grouping. It was rather frightening, if one looked at the audiences to which he made that pledge throughout the United States—north, south, east and west—to see the reaction of the crowds. That shows us that not only is he honouring his election pledge, but he is playing to a gallery of people who are prejudiced in favour of this sort of action.”
Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford, home to a large muslim population said “My skin colour is a few shades darker. That does not make me a terrorist, and it does not make me a threat. The colour of their skin does not make the Muslims in this world a threat to America or to western democracy. The thing that poses a threat is the Executive orders issued by the so-called leader of the free world, who incites hatred, demonises Muslims, sees women and others as second-class citizens and courts organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan. That is what creates terrorism—what threatens democracy, the world we live in and our children’s future—not Muslims, and not refugees.”
The Foreign Secretary replied to accusations that the U.S. was anti-migrant, “If you look at all the migrants in the world…fully 20% of them are in the US. 45 million people in the US were not born in that country and I do not think that you could credibly say that that country is hostile to those from overseas,”
MPs questioning him on numerous occasions made reference to the Holocaust, and Mr Johnson deflected them saying they were diminishing the history. He responded to the characterisation of the Trump administration’s action as a “Muslim ban” by citing the Visa Waiver Act, in which migrants of the 7 countries specified in the latest White House order were previously identified by the Obama regime as higher risk. The Foreign Secretary called the President’s travel policy divisive, discriminatory, and wrong. He suggested that “interfering in the affairs of another country can be counterproductive: Obama found that out last year. As things turn out, I was rather grateful.”
Robert Jenrick, a conservative MP said “I do not wish to diminish the topic that we are discussing, but my wife, who is a British citizen, was born in Israel. She will not be able to travel to Malaysia, where many people in this country go on holiday, and she will not be able to travel to 17 countries in and around the middle east. If the right hon. Gentleman cares so passionately about this—and I do not dispute that he does—what does he intend to do about that?”
Former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Mike Grapes for Labour, calling the Prime Minister “Theresa the Appeaser” asked how she got the President to make a state visit so soon while President George W Bush waited two years after taking office. Labour’s David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, said: “So many people in this country feel such contempt for what Trump has done. If indeed this visit of this wretched man, this bigoted man, is going to take place can we be reassured that under no circumstance will he address Parliament in Westminster Hall. That in itself would be a disgrace.”
Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh pointed out that for 70 years the US has contributed to the UK’s defence, referencing the rekindling of the so-called special relationship. Mr Johnson talked about the US commentary after the visit that spoke of a Reagan-Thatcher parallel.
Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland, powerfully stated: “Does the Secretary of State recognise a touch of the double standard when people from Ulster have been told for decades they must talk to the most objectionable people, work with the most objectionable of people, be in government with them, and yet…I am told you must not have the president of the most democratic country of the world brought to this country. Can I encourage him to ensure that the state visit proceeds?”
Round we go, back where we began on August 7, 2016 at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Then-candidate Donald J Trump told a crowd of supporters that 25% of Muslims living in the United States hate Americans, and approve of violence against Americans to achieve Jihad. He said he based his view on both a Pew Research Center report and a poll of US Muslims by the Center for Security Policy. He asked the crowd whether they wanted him to read out his statement:
“Impossible to watch this gross incompetence. These people are going crazy. Remember the 25%, 51%? Donald J Trump is calling for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice. We have no choice. According to Pew Research, there is a great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from Centers for Secure Policy released data showing that 25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans, those are the people that are here-by the way. One percent is unacceptable. One percent is unacceptable. 25% of those polled agree that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified. As part-think of that-as part of the global jihad.”
The report to which Candidate Trump referred came from the Center for Security Policy. The study made two main points; 1 in 5 Muslims living in the United States believe violence is acceptable to achieve sharia law in the US, and 1 in 4 Muslims in the US believe violence is an appropriate reaction to any insult to Islam, such as showing Mohammad’s image.
The Center for Security Policy (CSP), founded in 1988 by President Reagan staffer Frank Gaffney, has a motto of “Peace through Strength,” calls itself a “Special Forces in the War of Ideas”, offering its donors “maximum bang for the buck” but doesn’t publish who its donors are.
In 2013, Salon published a story with a list of donors to CSP in security and aviation that includes Boeing and General Electric. The contributions were listed the CSP’s tax document as required. General Electric had donated just $5000 to CSP. The Center for Policy Studies has had its repute called into question by what are reasonably regarded as opposite numbers to an organization that looks for Jihadist connections. The Southern Poverty Law Group, and the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative which engages in the academic study of Islamaphobia. Bridge Initiative says the CSP was a self-selecting internet poll of 600 people.
In 2012 CSP said Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin was a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abedin is the estranged wife of Anthony Weiner, whose FBI case into his illicit sexting with minors led police to seize Weiner’s laptop, iphone, and ipad. Clinton emails were found on his home computer and their home cloud. Those new emails ended up being passed into the hands of FBI Director James Comey’s. This led to Comey’s controversial re-opening of the FBI’s criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of sensitive information just 11 days prior the election.
This CSP study along with a Pew Poll appear to be the origin of Mr Trump’s thinking on Islamic radicalism (which he appears to believe is more pervasive than real evidence suggests)
On both sides of the pond, however, is a question of Mr Trump’s meaning. The world may wish for a translator of Trumpisms. While he is plain-speaking, he also speaks in bombast and apparent contradiction. His Islam ban, was not a ban on the Muslim in result, but it appears to have been the intention. He was caught on tape making misogynistic comments, yet he hires women in his own firm and places them in top posts. Kellyanne Conway is one of his closest aides, his daughter Ivanka is part of his administration and been a key member of the Trump organization. She is a speaker who disagrees on many points with her father, seems more aligned with Democrat’s views, and yet is a top member of the team. For all Hillary Clinton’s bluster on the campaign trail about equal pay for women, she was shown to pay women in her employ poorly at the Clinton Foundation; by contrast Trump has a history of paying women competitively.
In the same speech candidate Trump delivered in South Carolina, he spoke of women’s rights.
“Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices. This includes speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings, where women are murdered by their relatives for dressing, marrying or acting in a way that violates fundamentalist teachings.
“Over 1,000 Pakistani girls are estimated to be the victims of honor killings by their relatives each year. Recently, a prominent Pakistani social media star was strangled to death by her brother on the charge of dishonoring the family. In his confession, the brother took pride in the murder and said: “Girls are born to stay home and follow traditions.”
“Shockingly, this is a practice that has reached our own shores. One such case involves an Iraqi immigrant who was sentenced to 34 years in jail for running over his own daughter claiming she had become “too Westernized.”
“To defeat Islamic terrorism, we must also speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow.
“A new immigration policy is needed as well.”
When Mr Trump says he wants to ensure that American values are shared by newcomers, he means what he says. His executive order specifically points out mistreatment and bigotry against women and girls. Some might consider it mildly ironic. The text of Trump’s executive order is explicit. In that same speech, Mr Trump clearly laid out what was to come as clearly stated in his Executive Order: a call for the support of moderate Muslims and for the protection of women.
“In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Nobody mentioned the so-called bigoted order sought to protect women and girls and LGBT.
To confuse the world further on his decision-making style, Mr Trump can call NATO obsolete, then signed on to it because he takes the advice of a trusted appointee. He can say he believes in torture, but will not support it because his appointee disagrees. It seems he keeps strong opinions, but values other’s opinions more than his own, if he respects their expertise, just as a good CEO would do. Mr Trump is America’s CEO-in-Chief, where Obama was the Lawyer-in-Chief.
For eight years, roughly half of Americans have looked to President Obama for guidance on what to think and which values to support. Americans have listened to overweening public speeches in which the president gives counsel to America on how to cough into an elbow. In the General Motors bailout, the President advised vehicle owners to look out their warranty certificates. The people are quick to know who he sides with in a local police case, particularly where race may be an issue. The Democrats have been strong on messaging, speaking in a single consensus voice. There is much confusion over Trump’s freewheeling and free-thinking. The man is a pragmatist. He hates political correctness, which he has openly repeated, and is reflected in what he says and does. His racially indelicate comments and ideas are confusing to a liberal world that has poured a decade into elevating equality, sometimes over liberty. Nobody ‘gets’ Trump or knows what to make of him.
Mr. Trump is a conundrum, he can be both an advocate of women’s equality and be a misogynist to women he does not respect. He can be a friend of Islam when it is moderate and an Islamophobe when it is not. The world will have to come to terms with a politically incorrect America.
At some point which is unclear, between the August speech and the time the Executive Order was signed, former New York mayor, Rudy W. Giuliani says Mr Trump called him and asked him to figure out how to do it.
After the Executive order was signed, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was interviewed on 28th of January by friend and colleague, Fox News host, Judge Jeanine Possi. She asked him about the ban, if it had to do with religion, and how the 7 countries were decided.
“I’ll tell you the whole history of it, So when he [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up, he said, put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally. I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey with Congressman McCall, Pete King*, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us….which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there is substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”
It was unclear when the phone call Giuliani took place and when the commission began its work.
Trump’s travel ban executive order was entirely based on threat and risk, regardless of its motives, however. The seven nations included in the ban come from both a 2015 Obama era Visa Waiver Program which was voted into law that followed the Paris attacks and a 2016 revision which added three nations. It was intended to plug holes in immigration from areas of terrorism risk. Many are failed states or states engaged in clear state-supported terrorism. The Sudan, Syria, and Iran have been on the State Departments lists for state-sponsored terror since the late 80’s and early 90’s. In 2016, President Obama added Libya Somalia, and Yemen. While Trump’s executive order is categorically not a Muslim ban, his motives seem based on a pragmatic approach to protect Americans that he has made a case for based on a questionable report that has clearly led him to believe on the campaign trail that large numbers of Muslims wish violence against Americans.
“I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.”
As Foreign Secretary Johnson repeatedly pointed out, Mr. Trump did not otherwise specify or pick the countries in question. Section 8 USC 1187, refers to the countries chosen by President Obama in 2015 in the Visa Waiver program. It is indisputable.
Trump ordered the suspension of admission of all refugees into the United States for 120 days. He relaxed the halt in the refugee program to let in 900 refugees, the last of whom arrived Thursday. President Obama had increased the number of refugees for fiscal year 2017 by 30% to 100,000. In fiscal year 2016, Obama brought the number of refugees from 70–85,000 with a minimum of 10,000 coming from Syria. The actual number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. was 12,587. At the time President Obama had been asked to accept 100,000 Syrian refugees by former senior U.S. officials. He said it was impossible to do without financing for personnel to do screenings under the Visa Waiver law. It is not known if that increase in refugees had any influence on Trump’s ban.
When Obama announced the intention to increase the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry said Congress did not give the administration the funds to hire the people needed to process them because new laws on security background checks had been made so stiff. Instead the United States contributed to the refugee effort financially. Republicans Chuck Grassley and Bob Goodlatte the House Judiciary Chairman issues a statement warning that ISIL “have made it abundantly clear that they will use the refugee crisis to try to enter the United States.”
Candidate Clinton promised to bring in 65,000 Syrian refugees but to “looking to really emphasize those who are the most vulnerable, a lot of the persecuted religious minorities, including Christians and some who have been brutalized, like the Yazedi women.”
The Executive order banned for 90 days all travel from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It indefinitely stopped visas from Syrian refugees, but Tuesday 875 refugees were admitted. The order gives priority to religious minorities from Syria to continue to apply for visas. It does not specify which religious minorities. Presumably however, since Shia muslims are a minority in Syria, and the subject of an ISIL genocide, they too will be included, along with Yazedis, Druze, and Christians. None can know until refugees are admitted, which will be accepted. Additionally, the order allows the President to be flexible with the refugee program, in section 5 (d) on the U.S. Refugee Assistance Program the order say’s refugees will not be admitted, “until such time as I determine that additional admissions” would be “in the national interest.” He gave himself discretion by using the ban.
Speaking today at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump addressed leaders of many faiths. He said “Terrorism is a fundamental threat to religion.” He spoke of religious minorities, “We have seen peace loving Muslims terrorized, brutalized, victimized, murdered, and oppressed by ISIS killers. We have seen threats of extermination against Jews, and genocide against Christians.” He mentioned the travel ban, saying all Americans should feel “safe and secure.” He said he will let immigrants in, remarking that the US had the “most generous immigration system in the world.” Mr Trump said there are people who use American tolerance and seek to enter the U.S. to spread violence, oppress people for their faith and for their lifestyle (a nod to LGBT.) However, “we will not allow a beach head of intolerance to spread in our nation.” Immigrants must “fully embrace our values of religious and personal liberty and that they reject any form of oppression and discrimination. We want people to come into our nation but we want people to love us and love our values, not to hate us and hate our values.”
Mr Trump hints that Syrian Shia Muslim minorities may be given priority along with Christians, Jews, and other persecuted sects as he outlined in his order. That’s not much of a “Muslim ban.” What is shaping up in the immigration tossle is the battle within Islam over Islamic governance and secularism.
*Giuliani identified former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Representative Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Representative Peter T. King (R-N.Y.)
Since the travel ban, Iraq has suspended US visas, but it is believed Iran asked them to.