Former US President Barack Obama is “heartened” by protests, taking place against President Donald Trump’s recent ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. Kevin Lewis, the spokesman for Obama in his post-presidency, said in an unexpected statement Monday that the 44th US president backs the rallies, further rejecting Trump’s claims that his measure is like one of Obama’s back in 2011.
Trump issued an executive order late Friday to impose a 90-day entry ban on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, block refugees from Syria indefinitely, and suspend all refugee admissions for 120 days. The ban has triggered massive protests with thousands of people rallying in support of Muslims across the country. “President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy–not just during an election but every day,” the spokesman said.
He highlighted the point by quoting one of Obama’s past comments, in which he asserted that “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” Lewis also suggested that Trump’s comparison of his ban to Obama’s 2011 restriction on entries from Iraq, following a terrorist attack in Kentucky, is false.
“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” he noted.
Before leaving the White House, Obama had vowed to let Trump work without “popping off,” yet arguing that “As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle, but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.” With the new US president in office for only 10 days, a former president’s statement release is considered rare.