UAE Foreign Minister says Trump travel ban is not directed at Islam

Abdullah Bin Zayed

The United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister has said President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim majority countries is an internal affair not directed at any faith.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said most Muslims and Muslim countries were not included in the ban and the named states faced “challenges” that they needed to address.

“The United States has taken a decision that is within the American sovereign decision,” Sheikh Abdullah said at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Abu Dhabi.

“There are attempts to give the impression that this decision is directed against a particular religion, but what proves this talk to be incorrect first is what the US administration itself says … that this decision is not directed at a certain religion.”

The UAE  is a close ally of the United States and a member of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS and others in Syria.

Trump’s ban has triggered global outrage and Iran has said it will impose a similar ban on US citizens as a reciprocal measure.

Gulf Arab countries have been largely absent from the condemnation of the ban. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain have traditionally been close US allies, and all were left off the travel ban.

Of the five countries, the only one to express mild disapproval in public was Qatar, whose foreign minister was quoted during a visit to Serbia as saying he hoped Washington would reassess the ban.

Some Gulf officials even backed it openly. Dhahi Khalfan, a senior Dubai police official, tweeted on Monday “complete support” for Trump’s ban. “Every country has the right to protect its security … Trump, what you’re doing is right.”

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