Muslim-majority countries where Donald Trump does business left untouched by travel ban

Wealthier countries which could pose a risk of terror but do business with the Trump Organisation will not face restrictions

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The Independent US

As controversy rages about President Donald Trump’s travel ban, critics have pointed out that the seven predominantly Muslim countries whose citizens have been barred have one thing in common – they are not among the places where the tycoon does business.

The executive order Mr Trump signed blocks entry for the next 90 days to travellers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen but excluded from the list are several wealthier Muslim majority countries where the Trump Organisation has business interest, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, the UAE, Egypt and Indonesia.

It appeared to be business as usual for Mr Trump and the Sauds yesterday, with the President pictured on the phone with the King of Saudi Arabia as hundreds of thousands of people took part in spontaneous protests against the ban.

Mr Trump has said he has handed over management of his vast real estate empire, licensing and merchandising business over to his adult sons to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his role as President.

But critics said his business interests should have been handed over to a blind trust rather to avoid the possibility of Mr Trump being kept abreast of their performance.

Mr  Trump’s order makes no mention of Turkey despite the fact the country has been the target of several recent terror attacks and the state department put out a warning to American citizens last week noting that “an increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against US citizens.

The billionaire has several business interests in Turkey, including a line of Trump-branded home furnishings and two luxury towers, earning him up to £6 million a year according to a financial disclosure he made during the presidential campaign.

In December 2015, before he won the Republican nomination for President, Mr Trump admitted to Breibart News: “I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.” But he has reneged on this claim more recently, saying that laws making conflicts of interest illegal do not apply to the President.

The United Arab Emirates is another powerful, Muslim ally of the US which remains untouched by the ban. Mr Trump’s business interests there include luxury home developments, spa facilities and a golf course.

Also unaffected by the ban is Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, where there are two Trump-branded resorts under construction, built in partnership with local businesses.

Mr Trump’s chief of staff Reince Preibus was challenged on the issue of countries unaffected by the ban during an interview with CBS news.

Mr Priebus admitted to host Chuck Todd: “You bring up a good point and perhaps other countries need to be added. But all of this is done for the protection of Americans.

“The countries that were chosen in the executive order to protect Americans from terrorists were the countries that have already been identified by the Congress and the Obama administration. That doesn’t mean that other countries wouldn’t be added later.”

Mr Trump said the aim of his executive order is to prevent terrorists from entering the US but not a single terrorist attacker on US soil has come from one of the seven, relatively poor countries whose citizens Mr Trump has banned for the past four decades.

Not one of the 9/11 attackers came from the seven banned countries but 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, with the rest from the UAE, Lebanon and Egypt.

And people are also sharing statistics on social media that show 11,737 people are shot dead each year by another American, whereas only an average of nine people were killed annually by Islamic jihadist terrorists over a ten year average period to 2014.

Last night, Mr Trump issued a statement which said the ban was not a “Muslim ban” which he said the media was “falsely reporting”.

He said: “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave.

We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.”

But worldwide anger continues to grow, with a petition calling for Mr Trump to be banned from making a state visit to the UK expected to pass the one million mark. The Government considers all petitions that pass the 100,000 mark for debate.