Former President Obama “is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” but he “fundamentally disagrees” with discrimination based on faith or religion, Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said today.
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President Trump signed an executive order on Friday calling for a suspension of immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries with ties to terror, including the suspension of the United States’ acceptance of Syrian refugees. That move was met by protests in airports and city streets nationwide.
“In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy -- not just during an election but every day,” Lewis said in a statement.
“Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake," he added.
The statement pushed back on assertions by the Trump administration that Trump’s policy is comparable to restrictions put in place during the Obama administration.
“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Lewis said.
In November 2015, President Obama spoke out against impulses to discriminate based on religion and commended President George W. Bush for being adamant after the 9/11 terror attacks that America is not at war with Islam.
“It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse,” Obama said during a news conference in Antalya, Turkey, on Nov. 16, 2015 -- a few days after the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
“And whether you are European or American, the values that we are defending -- the values that we’re fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith," Obama added during the news conference. "We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.”