ePaper

Friday, April 20, 2018

African envoys call Trump racist after 'shithole' remark

  • Print

African politicians and diplomats labeled US President Donald Trump a racist on Friday after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from "shithole" countries. Trump reportedly made the remarks at a White House meeting on immigration on Thursday and a US senator who attended the gathering said on Friday that the president used "vile, vulgar" language, including repeatedly using the word "shithole."

Trump denied on Friday using such derogatory language, but he was widely condemned in many African countries and in Haiti and El Salvador, and by international rights organizations. "Ours is not a shithole country and neither is Haiti or any other country in distress," Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress told reporters at a news conference in East London.

"We would not deign to make comments as derogatory as that about any country that has any kind of socio-economic or other difficulties," Duarte said, adding that  much like their African counterparts, millions of US citizens were affected by problems such as unemployment. Botswana's foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador in protest and called the comments "highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist."

In a statement it said it had asked the US government, through its ambassador, to "clarify" if the derogatory remark also applied to Botswana given that there were Botswana nationals living in the United States and others who wished to go there. Senegal's foreign ministry also called in the US ambassador in Dakar to demonstrate its displeasure, a US State Department official said.

The African Union (AU), an organization which promotes cooperation on the continent, said it was alarmed by Trump's "very racist" comments. "Given the historical reality of how African Americans arrived in the United States as slaves, and the United States being the biggest example of how a nation has been built by migration - for a statement like that to come is particularly upsetting," AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.

The AU's mission in Washington expressed its "infuriation, disappointment and outrage" at the comment and demanded a retraction as well as an apology. In Haiti, on the eighth anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed about 220,000 people, the government also summoned the top US diplomat for an explanation, while the Haitian ambassador to Washington called for an apology.

"Haitians don't deserve such treatment," said Ambassador Paul Altidor. "Haitians should not be seen as a bunch of immigrants who come to the United States to exploit US resources." Special status given to about 59,000 Haitian immigrants, that has protected them from deportation following the 2010 earthquake, will end next year following a Trump administration ruling last month.

El Salvador, also facing an end to protected status for its 200,000 citizens living in the United States, sent a formal letter of protest to the US government over the comments. El Salvador's foreign ministry said the US president had "implicitly" accepted the use of "harsh terms detrimental to the dignity of El Salvador and other countries."

'Harsh and offensive'
Since taking office a year ago, Trump has pursued controversial policies aimed at curbing immigration into the United States as part of a hard-line "America First" agenda. Trump said on Twitter on Friday he merely used "tough" language when discussing a new immigration bill with a group of US senators.

He said the bill was a step backwards because it would force the United States "to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly". The Trump administration has spoken little about how it wants to engage with African countries, focusing its foreign policy instead on issues like North Korea and Islamic State.

On the streets of Lusaka, capital of the southern African country of Zambia, Trump's reported remark reinforced long-held views about the US leader. "Trump has always been a racist, only a racist can use such foul language," said Nancy Mulenga, a student at the University of Zambia.

Retired Ethiopian long-distance runner Haile Gebrselasse, who won his first 10,000 Olympic gold medal in the US city of Atlanta in 1996, told Reuters Trump's comments did not reflect the views of all Americans. The United Nations human rights office said it had no doubt Trump's remarks were "racist," while the Vatican newspaper branded them as "particularly harsh and offensive."

"You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes', whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome," said UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville.

-Reuters, Johannesburg

More News For this Category

Hasina, Modi hold meeting

| By News Desk
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday had a meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and discussed matters of bilateral interests, including the Rohingya issue."On the sidelines of the

Saudi Arabia launches first new cinema

| By News Desk
Saudi Arabia launched its first commercial movie theatre on Wednesday, ending a nearly 40-year ban on cinemas under a push by the crown prince to modernize the deeply conservative
Saudi Arabia launches first new cinema

Two abducted UPDF leaders freed

| By AA Correspondent
Two Hill Women's Federation leaders who were allegedly abducted in broad daylight on March 18, were freed at Kutukchari area in the district's headquarter yesterday night.United People's Democratic Front
Two abducted UPDF leaders freed

Quota reform for govt jobs sees no progress

| By News Desk
The government is yet to make any progress in abolishing the quota system in civil service jobs since the announcement made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament more

Motorcycle makers for VAT waiver

| By Shah Alam Nur
The motorcycle manufacturers in the country have demanded the waiver of Value Added Tax (VAT) and cash incentives on their product. In a pre-budget discussion of the National Board

Editors discuss Digital Security Act

| By News Desk
Describing the Editors' Council's concern over some sections of the proposed Digital Security Act as logical Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday assured that steps will be taken so that

Southwest flight chaos

| By
Federal air safety officials investigating why the engine of a Southwest Airlines jet blew apart, killing a passenger after shattering a plane window, said on Wednesday that the incident

3 cops hurt in gunfight

| By News Desk
Three policemen have been injured in a gunfight with suspected yaba peddlers in Dhaka's Gendaria.Police also arrested a suspect with gunshot wounds and recovered 2,000 yaba pills at the

'Media should focus on nat'l achievements'

| By
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu yesterday called upon journalists to highlight the good along with the bad in society. "Journalism is not all about criticism, it is also about

BD tries to bring Tarique back

| By
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is now in London to join the Commonwealth Summit, has said fugitive convict Tarique Rahman must face justice for the crimes he committed while
BD tries to bring Tarique back

© 2018 The Asian Age