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International shock waves of the Trump variety

Demonstrators chant against President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US (Photograph by John Minchillo/AP)

Much of the world is in a state of shock over immigration policies implemented by the new administration of the United States, as President Donald Trump, with the stroke of a pen, carried out a threat that he hammered home while campaigning for the White House. It was to close the nation’s doors to Muslims, as he put it at that time “until we can find out what the hell is going on”.

Perhaps because many thought that with a track record of insults and demeaning comments towards people whom he despised, there would be no way Trump would make it to the Oval Office. When the dust settled after one of the most contentious elections in American history, the billionaire real estate mogul startled political pundits in becoming the leader of the free world — political earth tremors were felt globally.

People who generally paid little attention to international matters suddenly found themselves asking questions about this man with the funny hairstyle who seemed ready to take on the world with policies that included a ban designed mainly to prevent Muslims from entering the United States. The new president may claim he took the action to protect Americans from acts of terrorism, but it has stunned Muslim communities throughout the US, where this was seen as religious discrimination. Reaction around the world was swift, with Iran calling it “insulting” and vowing to turn the tables by shutting the immigration gates to Americans wishing to enter their country.

The impact of the new executive order signed by Trump touched off a storm of protest at many airports, as Muslims returning legally to their homes in America were detained by authorities enforcing the new policy. Word spread like wildfire and hundreds marched on airports to protest what many were describing as an act contrary to basic American values. Even though the White House was aware that protests were escalating, Trump insisted that the newly implemented ban was working nicely.

For many observers, it was a flashback to the inauguration controversy when Trump was adamant that his ceremony was the biggest ever, despite evidence showing clearly that was not the case.

If indeed the President’s executive order went down nicely, there certainly would not have been need for massive demonstrations at so many airports in America. Reaction in Britain, one of America’s closest allies, was equally strong, with a petition containing more than 1 million signatures demanding that a Trump state visit to the UK be cancelled. That action in itself indicates how strong people feel about such a policy.

Back in America, questions about the new president’s real motives continue to trouble most Americans, who are disturbed over a potential backlash by extremist groups. One member of Congress felt the situation was slowly turning into a constitutional crisis.

On the other hand, Trump has close supporters who see nothing wrong with his style of running the country.

Around the world, countries feed off each other through various trade arrangements that keep the international economy throbbing for large and small countries. Stability is an essential ingredient in global diplomacy for that to continue.

All eyes are also on the Republican Party and, while Trump is its president, there is real concern that not all members are in favour of how things are being handled. Some commentators have expressed a view that these people should be more outspoken when they disagree with a policy that might not be in the best interests of the nation.

In one week, Trump has created a negative reaction from just about every state in America, and that is certainly not the way to win friends and to influence people.

Everyone knows the role of the President is not meant to be a popularity contest, but the people look for a type of leadership that places value for every citizen in a manner that promotes democracy, dignity and freedom.

We can only watch in the weeks and months ahead to see whether the worldwide protests will lead to a possible review of proposals that have ignited such outrage. Meanwhile, shock waves are still expanding.