UAE says Trump travel ban is ‘not against Muslims’

Trump’s directive put a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

President Donald Trump’s travel ban imposed on citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries was a sovereign decision for the United States and not directed at any religion, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said on Wednesday.

“The impression that the order is targeted against certain group is not right, especially after the US Administration asserted that Muslims are not targeted by that order,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Abdullah also said the idea of safe zones in Syria would be welcome if they were to be temporary and for humanitarian purposes under international auspices.

But he said Abu Dhabi wanted to hear more details from Washington before subscribing to the idea.

Trump’s directive put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The Friday night ban prompted protests and chaos at airports on the weekend as customs officials struggled to put the order into practise.

The U.S. State Department has received multiple cables from its embassies abroad reporting on the foreign anger and dismay at the U.S. executive order curtailing travel to the U.S. by seven predominately Muslim countries, a U.S. official said on Monday.

Asked about the cables, a U.S. State Department official said it remains in contact with its embassies abroad but added: “we will not comment on internal communications.”