CAIRO Jan 29 – Egyptian authorities Saturday stopped six Arabs from leaving for the United States, according to sources at Cairo airport, just hours after President Donald Trump suspended refugee admissions and barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Five Iraqis and a Yemeni national arrived at Cairo airport to board an Egyptair flight bound for John F Kennedy Airport in New York, the sources added.
They had already obtained visas to enter the US.
The banning order came from an official at the US airport when was “notified of their status,” a source at Cairo airport said.
The measures imposed by the new US president appear to also be extending to residents of seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The New York Times reported that two Iraqis who had been granted visas to enter the US filed a lawsuit against Trump and the administration after they were detained on arrival. Their lawyers argue the detentions are illegal.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said it received reports that even green card holders – who have permission to reside permanently in the United States – were denied entry at airports.
“ADC is advising nationals in the US who are from the above referenced countries to not travel abroad. You will not be allowed to re-enter the country,” the group said in a statement.
The Trump administration has a “clear agenda to criminalize all immigrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, and persons of Arab ancestry and/or of the Islamic faith.”
On Friday, Trump suspended the US refugee admissions programme for four months, blocked Syrian refugees indefinitely and halted visas for the six additional countries for 90 days.
The president said the measures were needed to protect against “radical Islamic terrorists.”
Critics have noted the ban does not include wealthy nations like Saudi Arabia, whose nationals were involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001 which Trump mentioned on Friday.
Official reaction in the Middle East has been somewhat muted, with the leaders of countries such as Turkey and Egypt staying silent on Trump’s executive order.
Anas al-Joudeh, the leader of a small Syrian opposition group in Damascus, said the US was not a leader when it came to refugees from his country.
“They won’t have any significant effect on efforts to resolve Syria’s humanitarian crisis,” he predicted, arguing that even under former president Barack Obama the US only took in a “symbolic” number of Syrian refugees, much larger numbers of whom went to countries such as Germany. – dpa