Diocese of Westminster

Archbishop: Trump travel ban puts Middle East Christians more at risk

Mon 06 Feb 2017
By Aaron James

The leader of Catholics in England and Wales has said Donald Trump's travel ban on seven mainly Muslim countries risks making the dangers faced by Christians in the Middle East even worse than they already are.

The Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols said the ban encouraged the "false notion" of a conflict between Christians and Muslims while wrongly suggesting Christianity is a "Western phenomenon".

His comments came as the US president received another setback when a federal appeals court rejected a request by the Justice Department to reinstate the ban, after a federal judge ordered a temporary suspension.

The Cardinal said he did not think the ban would add to security in the United States or the Middle East.

"I don't think it increases security at all frankly because I just think it is likely to increase the determination of terrorists to make US objects a target," he told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour.

"Safety in the long run is not secured by fear. It's secured by improving relationships. It's secured by getting to know people around you and in that sense opening up things and not shutting them down.

"The second thing it does is it increases the risk faced by Christian communities in the Middle East because it implicitly backs a false notion that this is conflict between Christians and Muslims, and it increases the image of Christianity as a Western phenomenon."

The Cardinal added that he hoped Mr Trump's state visit to the UK would go ahead, despite strong opposition from sections of the public.

"Diplomatic relationships are about talking to each other. I don't think it's part of the best of the tradition of this country to meet negative factors with purely negative factors," he said.

"I would be very surprised and I would be personally disappointed and I would consider it to be a failure if a formal visit by the president of the United States was unacceptable in this country.

"That would be a failure on our part."

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