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German President Gauck calls on Europe to 'speak out' against Trump travel ban

Germany's president has urged Europe to take a clear stance against Trump's entry ban for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. He said the order was "incompatible" with the European values of human dignity.

Europe needs to take a clear stance on US President Donald Trump's executive order targeting nationals from Muslim-majority countries, German President Joachim Gauck said on Saturday.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order that barred passport-holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. The order also indefinitely suspended the US refugee program for Syrians, citing national security concerns.

The order sent shockwaves around the world, with tens of thousands of previously approved visas invalidated due to the ban. A US federal judge temporarily suspended the order on Friday, but the White House has said it will work to reinstate the ban.

"We should speak out very clearly on this," Gauck said in an interview published Saturday in five European daily newspapers.

"The imposed entry ban implies that people of Muslim faith and people with a certain origin are dangerous," Gauck said. "It is incompatible with our concepts of human dignity, equality and religious freedom."

He added that these were once values that Europeans shared with the Americans - values that the United States once upheld "during the darkest time in Europe's history" and returned to the continent.

'Populism is a fire accelerant for fear'

During the interview, Gauck also reiterated his commitment to the European project in comments with the newspapers "NRC Handelsblad" (The Netherlands), "The Guardian" (UK), "Le Monde" (France), "La Stampa" (Italy) and "El Pais" (Spain).

Facing a growing wave of populism in Europe, Gauck pushed for more dialogue to allay people's fears concerning immigration and globalization.

"Populism is a fire accelerant for fear," warned the German president. He added that rational discourse will not suffice to ease the concerns of those who feel left behind and that politicians should speak in ways that only elites can understand.

"We need an even more intense dialogue, more real encounters with those who are afraid," Gauck said

Still, the German president said Europe needs to improve the security of its external borders and improve "legal access routes" for those seeking asylum in Europe.

Gauck has held the largely ceremonial role of German president since 2012 and is due to leave office in March.

On February 12, Germany's Federal Assembly will vote on who will succeed Gauck. Former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to be selected for the post.

rs/sms (AFP, dpa, epd, KNA)

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