Zahra Shahtahmasebi

31 January, 2017

(THE TV’s LEAKING) Yesterday prime minister Bill English finally publicly stated his disagreement against the controversial travel ban put in place by US president-elect Donald Trump on Friday but only after repeated urging from other political figures; Dame Susan Devoy, and Green party co-leader Metiria Turei. Despite his expressed concerns, it seems he will not make these known to Trump, as he believes ‘it is not our job to tell others how to run their country’. [Emphasis added].

English was interviewed on Radio NZ this morning. When asked by Guyon Espiner about his thoughts on the policy, English seemed again reserved and somewhat defensive. He once again reiterated his opposition to the ban but it was clear that he had taken no steps to find out how New Zealand citizens may be affected despite the ban already being operational for four days. The ban prevents citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the US, as well as affecting people who have dual nationality. Since the order has been signed, chaos has erupted in the States, with travellers and refugees who were looking to make a new life in the supposed ‘land of the free’ being detained in US airports. It is tearing apart many lives and families, with the order extending to cover permanent residents, as well as those who have valid visas. People who have worked and contributed to American society for a number of years, but say, have travelled to their homeland to visit family are being prevented from returning; they are being pulled off flights and prevented from boarding, whilst being questioned about their business in America and then even deported. Yet it’s clear these people mean no harm – these people are not terrorists, they are just people who have made or plan to make America their home.

England and Canada, (other members of the Five Eyes Alliance, the secretive surveillance group) have already been granted exemptions for their citizens following governmental inquiries, with Australia seeking the same. Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop has expressed Australia’s support for Trump’s strong immigration and border policies, saying he is merely fulfilling a campaign promise. Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison declined to criticise Trump’s latest move, instead deciding to empathise, stating that Australia’s harsh border deterrence policies are the envy of the world and that finally ‘the rest of the world is catching up’ to them. The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull is yet to speak to address the subject of the travel ban.

 

In light of all this English’s attitude appears very relaxed. While he says New Zealand too is seeking exemptions, he has as of yet received no assurance from the US. He is asserted that New Zealand would never implement such a policy. But that is not the issue here – while it’s good to hear that a ban will never exist here, the fact is, such a ban already exists elsewhere, and is having a severe global impact.

And to cap it all off, when asked if he thought the policy was racist, English replied that no, he didn’t believe so, instead that it is a policy that discriminates among refugees, based on the country they come from. Well, as Guyon Espiner then pointed out, is that not the definition of racism? And his perspective seems a little mis-informed, as it is well known that this ban does not just apply to refugees, but to all citizens of those seven listed countries. Green card holders were initially banned too, however the Trump administration later revoked this, stating they could return to the US only after passing additional security checks. This travel ban is a bigoted and fascist policy that is not only acting as a source of widespread terror and anxiety but is actually unconstitutional. Yet English suggests that it’s up to Muslim New Zealanders to make their minds up on the policy, basically saying in not so many words that he wasn’t going to do anything to contend Trump’s executive order.

I don’t know about you, or what we come to expect in a leader nowadays, but I would expect some strong moral leadership in light of a policy that clearly violates human rights and judges people based on both race and religion. Meanwhile, those countries that export the most terrorism in the world (such as Saudi Arabia) get a free pass into Donald Trump’s America.

This article (English: “I don’t believe it’s a racist policy”) was written exclusively for The TV’s Leaking and may not be reproduced in any way, shape or form without permission from the author.

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