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Senior Suffolk clergyman says Trump's travel ban is a 'recipe for division'

PUBLISHED: 20:00 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 08:30 03 February 2017

Bishop Martin Seeley has described President Trump's travel ban as 'motivated by a collective fear'

Bishop Martin Seeley has described President Trump's travel ban as 'motivated by a collective fear'

Archant

A senior Suffolk clergyman who spent 12 years living and working in America says President Trump's travel ban will 'generate further fear, hatred and hostility'.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order enforcing a 90 day ban on refugees and immigrants from seven mainly Muslim countries (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)President Donald Trump has signed an executive order enforcing a 90 day ban on refugees and immigrants from seven mainly Muslim countries (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, lived as a student in Manhattan in New York from 1977 to 1978, and then as a clergyman from 1980 to 1985 before moving to St Louis in Missouri to run an educational institution until 1990.

He has criticised President Trump’s recent executive order of a 90 day ban of refugees and immigrants from seven mainly Muslim countries saying it is a ‘recipe for division, not security’.

“For a land largely of immigrants, his action must seem shocking,” he said.

“Having lived in the US for 12 years, I can only interpret this as motivated by a collective fear.

Bishop Martin Seeley lived inthe USA for 12 yearsBishop Martin Seeley lived inthe USA for 12 years

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The contrast between these words of Emma Lazarus’ on the base of the Statue of Liberty and President Trump’s directives is stark.

“Tragically, Trump’s actions will make many Americans afraid not just of terrorists, but afraid and suspicious of all the citizens of those mainly Muslim countries he has banned entering the US.

“I can only see this as a calculating act that will generate further fear, hatred and hostility.”

•Anti-Trump campaigners are set to protest in Ipswich town centre over Muslim travel ban

Bishop Seeley says President Trump's actions are in stark contrast to the quote at the base of the Statue of LibertyBishop Seeley says President Trump's actions are in stark contrast to the quote at the base of the Statue of Liberty

Bishop Seeley said he was hugely fond of the country and was dismayed by what is going on across the pond.

He said: “You have these two dimensions of the country going on - the open arms that the Statue of Liberty represents, the welcome which is totally genuine, the hospitality, but on the other hand this idea that ‘we need to protect ourselves’. These two aspects are held in tension.

“Some would see the Obama administration as representing the welcome and now we are seeing the reaction to that.

“We must not underestimate the trauma of 9/11, the reality that people could infiltrate the US and do so much damage to a society, and you can understand the pressure to protect since then.

“The fundamental problem is rather than saying we will sharpen up our security practices and create more stringent vetting, he has gone for this blanket ban.

“As soon as you start blaming a group for the behaviour of a few individuals that whole group gets tainted by that behaviour.

“It is a recipe for division not security.”

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