Protests against U.S. President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on citizens from mainly Muslim countries are growing louder outside the United States, with the world's largest body of Islamic nations expressing "grave concern" and German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying the move "runs contrary to the basic principles of international refugee help."
Merkel made the comments on January 30, saying such bans are not justified by the effort to counter terrorism. She added that her government is in consultation with "European partners" on the matter.
Vowing to protect the United States from "foreign terrorists," Trump signed an executive order on January 27 halting the entire U.S. refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely banning Syrian refugees, and suspending all immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.
Such selective and discriminatory acts will only serve to embolden the radical narratives of extremists."
The move led to protests and legal challenges in the United States, as well as wide criticism abroad.
All seven countries involved in the order -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen -- are member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which said "many of those fleeing war and persecution have been adversely and unjustly affected" by the measure.
"Such selective and discriminatory acts will only serve to embolden the radical narratives of extremists," the 57-nation organization said in a January 30 statement.
In Iraq, lawmakers said they voted on January 30 to call on the government to enact a reciprocal travel ban on U.S. citizens if Washington does not rescind its decision to bar the entry of Iraqis.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry called on the Trump administration to “reconsider this wrong decision."
Yemen's government also expressed its "dissatisfaction" over Trump's order, saying it is "likely to strengthen the position of extremists."
"The only way to achieve victory in the fight against terrorism...is dialogue and not creating barriers," it added.
To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban ... This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe."
Former U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement on January 30 saying he "fundamentally disagrees" with any policy that discriminates on the basis of religion. He added that "American values are at stake" and said he was "heartened" by the engagement of U.S. citizens in protesting the policy.
Trump stood firm over the ban, saying visas would once again be issued once "the most secure policies" were in place.
"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting," he said in a January 29 statement. "This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe."
On January 28, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Trump's decision "a great gift to extremists " and "a clear insult to the Islamic world."
He said Trump's decision "only serves to provide a fertile ground for more terrorist recruitment by deepening the ruptures and fault lines which have been exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks."
Zarif’s ministry earlier said it would reciprocate with a ban on Americans entering the country, though it will not apply to those who already have a valid visa.
Meanwhile, the United Nations human rights chief Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein described Trump's order as "mean-spirited."
Zeid said in a tweet that "discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law," adding that the U.S. ban "wastes resources needed for proper counterterrorism."
With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters