Iran FM says US travel ban ‘sad!’

Iran FM says US travel ban ‘sad!’

Zarif accuses US Supreme Court of supporting bigotry in upholding ban on residents of six mostly-Muslim countries

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral states in Moscow on December 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting of foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral states in Moscow on December 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed the US travel ban on travelers from six mainly Muslim countries in a tweet Monday.

“US Supreme Court defends and allows Trump’s #MuslimBan to go into full effect, giving bigotry full licence in USA. Sad!” he wrote.

His tweet came in response to a US Supreme Court ruling that the government could fully enforce a revised ban on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen pending appeal, backing US President Donald Trump in the year-long battle over the controversial measure.

Iran has long been considered a state sponsor of terror, and is currently engaged in a power struggle through proxies with its chief rival Saudi Arabia, in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries. The regime backs Hezbollah and Hamas, both recognized by the US as terror groups.

The third version of Trump’s travel ban, unveiled in September, drew immediate challenges in federal appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia and San Francisco, California.

Plaintiffs argued that the measure targets Muslims in violation of the US Constitution and did not advance security goals as the government claimed.

The challengers convinced the lower courts to put implementation on hold while they and government lawyers fight out the legality of the policy.

Protesters gather at a rally against the travel ban in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

But the Trump administration, which says the ban is crucial to protect US national security and deter terror attacks, secured strong support from the Supreme Court in a 7-2 vote to let the government move ahead while the appeals continue.

“We are not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism,” the White House said.

“The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts,” it added.

The ban also covers people from North Korea and a selection of senior officials from Venezuela, but its main focus is travelers from the six mainly Muslim countries.

Trump has battled to implement a travel ban since just after he became president on January 20, after having repeatedly promised during last year’s election campaign to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Those promises have undermined the administration’s argument in a series of court challenges that its policy is not Muslim-focused but rather based on security needs.

After Monday’s court ruling the Department of Homeland Security said: “the administration’s common sense travel restrictions on countries that do not meet basic security standards and do not share critical information with us about terrorists and criminals are designed to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe.”

Immigration and civil rights activists maintain it still essentially targets Muslims, which would violate the US Constitution’s guarantees of religious rights.

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