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Iraq parliament votes in favour of travel ban on Americans

Monday January 30, 2017 7:10 PM, Agencies

Iraq Parliament

In a tit-for-tat response, Iraqi parliamentarians on Monday voted in favour of imposing travel ban on Americans.

The majority vote - which is binding - means parliament will ask the government to retaliate by implementing visa restrictions on Americans visiting Iraq, a parliamentary official said on Monday.

It is not immediately clear whether the vote will impact American civilians and military already living and working in Iraq, as well as those who seek to enter. No details were offered by parliamentary spokespeople, AP reported.

The move came days after Donald Trump, the newly elected President of the United States, restricted entry from seven Muslim countries including Iraq.

Iraqi parliament voted in favor of travel ban on US citizens even as a federal court in the United States temporary withheld part of Trump's controversial order.

Trump's order, one of his key polls promises, has given rise to widespread protest in the US and other parts of the world.

While a strong protest was held outside Chicago airport yesterday, Muslim world reacted strongly against Trump's "unjustified" order.

Two days ago, Iran had indicated that it will ban Americans from entering the country in response to President Donald Trump's "insulting" order restricting arrivals from Iran and six other Muslim states.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran... has decided to respond in kind after the insulting decision of the United States concerning Iranian nationals" until the measure is lifted, the ministry said in a statement carried by state television.

President Donald Trump's visa ban on seven Muslim countries also triggered shock and confusion among those affected.

"There is mass hysteria among the Iranian-American community -- that's no exaggeration," said Saam Borhani, an attorney in Los Angeles.

He said clients were bombarding him with questions since Trump passed an executive order on Friday, suspending refugee arrivals and imposing tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

With more than one million Iranians living in the United States, the restrictions have already caused chaos for students, businessmen and families.

"I have several clients impacted by the executive order -- married couples whose spousal visas have been stopped, causing them to be separated. A father living in Iran who is unable to come to his son's wedding in California," said Borhani, who was himself born in the US to Iranian parents.

US State Department figures show Iran accounted for around a quarter of the 31,804 visas granted to citizens from the seven countries last year.

Among thousands facing difficulties, an Iraqi family was barred in Cairo from taking their connecting flight to New York yesterday.

"I had sold my house, my car, my furniture. I resigned from work and so did my wife. I took my children out of school," Fuad Sharef, 51, told AFP.

"Donald Trump destroyed my life. My family's life. I used to think America was a state of institutions but it's as though it's a dictatorship," he said.


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