Germany’s Angela Merkel attacks Donald Trump for targeting ‘people from specific background or faith’

‘The Geneva Refugee Convention requires the international community to take in refugees from war on humanitarian grounds ... The Chancellor explained this policy to the US President’

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The Independent Online

Angela Merkel has criticised Donald Trump’s ban on some Muslim immigration, saying it is “not justified to put people from a specific background or faith under general suspicion” to combat terrorism.

A spokesman for Chancellor Merkel said the German leader believes the travel ban is wrong.

Spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “The Chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and citizens of certain countries.

“She is convinced that even the necessary, resolute fight against terrorism doesn’t justify putting people of a particular origin or particular faith under general suspicion.

“The Geneva Refugee Convention requires the international community to take in refugees from war on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are expected to do so. The Chancellor explained this policy to the US President in their call yesterday.

“The German government will now examine what consequences the measure of the US government will have for German citizens with double citizenship and will represent their interests, if necessary, before our American partners.”

Mrs Merkel and Mr Trump spoke by phone on Saturday for the first time since his inauguration.

The President signed an executive order on Friday temporarily banning travellers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entry into the US. 

Protests erupt outside JFK Airport after President Trump’s immigration ban

In contrast, the German Chancellor has welcomed more than a million refugees into the country, many fleeing war torn Syria. 

The policy has been praised by many, but Mr Trump referred to it as a “catastrophic mistake”.

It has also caused significant internal political difficulties, with right-wing populist parties such as Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) gaining ground in the last year.

A statement released after Saturday’s call did not mention Mr Trump’s immigration policy but highlighted areas of common interest and stressed the importance of ties between the United States and Europe’s largest economy.

Trump and Merkel discussed how Nato thrives with all allies “contributing their fair share to our collective security”, the White House said. The comment came after Trump called the alliance “obsolete”, but it highlighted the need for reforms and updates.

Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised Nato members such as Germany that do not spend two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on their militaries.

Ms Merkel has said Germany will work to increase its defence spending – now at 1.19 per cent of GDP – but also warned that it would take time to achieve the goal.

Additional reporting by Reuters