ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Libertarian Party declared its opposition to President Trump’s executive order blocking entry to the United States from a handful of Muslim-majority countries, suggesting that recent suspicious mosque fires may have been the eventual result of inflammatory rhetoric.
In the order signed by Trump on Friday, all people arriving from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be banned for 90 days. The implementation of the rule ensnared legal permanent residents in customs detention over the weekend, with the White House clarifying that it didn’t intend for green-card holders to be covered under the block.
Refugees from all countries are blocked for 120 days while the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence unanimously decide which countries’ refugees will be allowed in. Fiscal year 2017 refugees would be limited to 50,000; President Obama allowed for 110,000 refugees.
All refugees from Syria are deemed “detrimental to the interests of the United States” and are blocked indefinitely. There’s an exception in the order for “when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.” Trump told CBN that Christians would receive priority in applying for refugee status.
In a message to party supporters Sunday, Libertarian National Committee chairman Nicholas Sarwark noted a Jan. 28 blaze that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas, and an earlier fire at the Islamic Center of Lake Travis in Austin. The causes of the fires are still being investigated; a spokesman for the Victoria mosque, Abe Ajrami, urged people not to rush to judgment and let the investigation takes its course. That mosque was also burglarized earlier in the month. The Lake Travis mosque was under construction and supposed to open in the spring.
“The Libertarian Party hopes that these fires were caused by some innocent accident. But the fact that our Muslim brothers and sisters even have to worry about hate crimes perpetrated against them or their buildings of worship is a sad statement on current affairs in America,” Sarwark told fellow Libertarians. “New executive orders have barred entry of people from 7 countries that are mostly Muslim. We’ve heard talk of registries for Muslim Americans. And we’ve heard a lot of nasty rhetoric from the president and others.”
“Muslim Americans have every reason to feel uncomfortable. And, their concern should be the concern of every American.”
The chairman added that “America was founded on freedom, including and perhaps especially freedom of religion,” and “there are two real threats here: One is the infringement on people’s rights to live and worship as they see fit. The other is the complacency that some Americans have about it.”
“The Libertarian Party calls on all Americans not to be complacent when the rights of one group, any group, are infringed. When we allow one group’s rights to be degraded, we are degrading the human rights of all of us, and degrading our country,” Sarwark said, emphasizing that “today and everyday, the Libertarian Party says to our Muslim brothers and sisters, we are with you.”
“We have your back. We’ll do our best to speak out and amplify your voice. We hope and pray that a registry is never created. But if one is, we will oppose it vigorously and you can rest assured that many of our members will register themselves in protest,” he added. “We will speak out against travel and immigration bans. We will speak out loudly against any and all acts of violence or destruction that may be committed against you. When your rights and humanity are infringed upon, we stand with you.”
During the campaign, Libertarian vice presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld compared any potential mass deportations by the Trump administration to the Holocaust.
“I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest,” said Weld, later clarifying he wasn’t calling Trump a Nazi but “we got to watch it when we get exclusionary about people on account of their status as a member of a group.”