The United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat has defended US President Donald Trump’s travel ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said on Wednesday that Trump’s ban was not anti-Islam and that the US was within its rights to take what he said was a “sovereign decision” concerning immigration.
Nahyan, whose country is a close ally of Washington, said it was “wrong to say” that the decision by the new US administration was “directed against a particular religion”.
“The United States has made… a sovereign decision,” he said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, pointing out that it was “provisional” and did not apply to “the large majority” of the world’s Muslims.
President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on Friday singled out citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the United States.
This week, Dubai’s head of security Dhahi Khalfan Tamim sparked outrage after backing Trump’s Muslim ban.
In a series of crude and sectarian outbursts on Twitter this weekend, Lieutenant General Khalfan – who holds one of the most important positions in Dubai – threw his weight behind Trump’s immigration policy.
“We completely support Trump in his ban on entry to those who may cause a breach in America’s security,” the security chief tweeted.
The UAE is one of the US’ closest Arab allies. It is part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group and hosts American troops and warplanes taking part.
The 90-day travel ban, which could still extend to other states, has exempted Muslim-majority nations associated with major attacks in the West.
Out of the 19 hijackers of planes used in the September 11, 2011 attacks on the Unites States, 15 came from Saudi Arabia, also the birthplace of al-Qaeda founder and attack mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The other four included the Egyptian plot leader, two Emiratis and a Lebanese. The news arab