Amid widespread criticism over the ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, the White House has said President Donald Trump’s top priority is focusing on the safety and security of the US and not targeting any religion. “The President’s number one goal has always been to focus on the safety of America, not the religion,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters yesterday.
“He understands that it’s not a religious problem. It’s a radicalisation problem; that there’s a big difference between Islam, the religion, and radical Islamic terrorists that come here to seek to do us harm,” Spicer said.
He was responding to a question on an audio recording in which White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is seen saying that Islam is a “dark religion”.
“Does the President share his chief strategist’s apparent beliefs on Islam?,” Spicer was asked.
“No,” Spicer said. “I think the President’s been very clear that his number one goal is not to target anyone’s religion, but places and areas where we believe that there is an issue,” he said.
“That’s what the executive order was all about making sure that areas that we don’t feel have the proper mechanisms in place to assure the security, that when they travel to the United States, that we know that they’re coming here for peaceful purposes,” Spicer said.
During the campaign trail, Trump had repeatedly said he would temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the US.
The executive order he signed on Friday banned entry from seven majority-Muslim countries -– Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen –- for 90 days. The order also suspended the Syrian refugee program indefinitely.