Trump’s ‘shithole’ remarks spur international anger

US president referred to El Salvador, Haiti and Africa as ‘shithole countries’ in conversation about immigration.

International organisations including the UN and African Union, politicians and people from African countries and Caribbeans are outraged over US President Donald Trump‘s latest racist remarks.

The president criticised immigration to his country from El Salvador, Haiti and the African continent, by calling the group “shithole countries”, according to the US media.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked at a meeting with congress members at the White House, reports said on Thursday, citing people with knowledge on the conversation.

Trump suggested the US should instead focus its immigrant entry policy on countries such as Norway. 

These are racist comments. He has said things like this before when he talked about Nigerians who won't go back to live in huts and he talked about Haitians who bring AIDS to the United States. These are all confirmations of what a lot of people have long suspected - that he harbours racism

by Bill Schneider, Washington, DC-based political analyst

Rupert Colville, spokesman of the UN human rights office, said: “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as shitholes … I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist.”

Colville added the story wasn’t “just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side”.

The African Union said it was “frankly alarmed”. 

“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” said AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo.

Haiti‘s government said Trump’s reported comments shows a “racist view of the Haitian community”, while El Salvador sent a formal letter of protest to the US saying Trump had “implicitly” accepted the use of “harsh terms detrimental to the dignity of El Salvador and other countries”.  

Tough language 

Trump denied the racist remarks, tweeting on Friday that the language he used “was tough, but this was not the language used”, as he called for a “merit-based system of immigration and people who take our country to the next level”.

He later tweeted that he has “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously a very poor and troubled country”. 

But Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator who attended the meeting, disputed Trump’s account. 

“He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin told reporters. 

Trump questioned why the US should accept more immigrants from Haiti, Durbin said, adding that “shitholes” was the “exact word” the US leader used to describe countries in Africa. 

The White House did not directly challenge the authenticity of Trump’s comments, but issued a statement saying: “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.”

‘Extremely offensive’

Rene Civil, an activist in Haiti, said that Trump is “destabilising, a president who uses vulgar words, who is unacceptable”. 

Civil added: “We [Haitians] demand that Donald Trump apologise [to] the entire African continent, as well as before Haiti, a country whose blood has been used by ancestors who have used their minds and bodies to liberate the United States itself from slavery”. 

South Africa‘s ruling ANC party said Trump’s comments were “extremely offensive”, with a spokeswoman saying the party would never deign to make such derogatory remarks.

Morocco-based Africa analyst Adama Gaye told Al Jazeera: “Trump has shown a continuous display of racism towards Africa [and people from poor nations].”

Abdulsalam Kayode, a resident of the Nigeria‘s capital Lagos, told Al Jazeera that the US president’s comments are “not unexpected from somebody of this nature [because] we already know this kind of person”. 

Commenting on the invitation to Norwegians, Washington DC-based political analyst Bill Schneider told Al Jazeera: “That’s the racist element. Norwegians are white, they’re northern Europeans. He was referring earlier, in his vulgar comment, to [people of] African descent. 

“These are racist comments. He has said things like this before when he talked about Nigerians who won’t go back to live in huts and he talked about Haitians who bring AIDS to the United States. These are all confirmations of what a lot of people have long suspected – that he harbours racism.”

Many took to social media to condemn the president, including members of his own Republican party.

Republican politician Mia Love, who is of Haitian descent, said: “The president’s comments are unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”^tfw

Democratic State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry said on Twitter: “I have to first express how demoralising & upsetting it is to have to register my outrage again and again over hateful remarks made by my own president.”

She then posted a statement saying: “I’m very disappointed in us, the people of the United States, who saw fit to elect an ignorant, mean-spirited, white supremacist to the most powerful office in the world.”

Writer Wajahat Ali said in a tweet: “In just 11 days, Trump has insulted Pakistan, a country of 200 million, Haiti (11 million), El Salvador (6 million), the entire continent of Africa (which is not a country & has 1.2 billion) & millions of Americans. So, about 1.5 billion people. 20% of the world. Week isn’t over.”

A Twitter user, apparently from in Haiti, posted the photos of natural beauty in his country, calling Trump a #ShitHolePresident!”

Journalist Jacqueline Charles followed the suit, posting an apparent view in Haiti. She wrote: “Who knew I had been going to a shithole all of these years.”

Meanwhile, a Norwegian – @Shkurten – publicly rejected Trump’s offer to move to the US, saying: “I live in Norway and would never move to USA. We have health care, free higher education, 5 weeks vacation, 8 hours work a day. No thanks Trump.”

Shannon Watts, an activist working to end gun violence, tweeted: “Trump’s guide to diversity. Africa: Array of shithole countries. Haitians: Have AIDS. Nigerians: Live in huts. Puerto Ricans: Lazy. Black Americans: Ingrates. Mexicans: Criminals and rapists. Muslims: Evil terrorists. Women: Treat them like shit. White supremacists: VERY FINE PEOPLE.”

Source: Al Jazeera