International organisations including the UN and African Union, politicians and other Africans 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, 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; the president met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.
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.
Following the publication of the media reports, the White House issued a statement in which it did not directly challenge the authenticity of the comments.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” the White House said.
Trump denied the racist remarks, tweeting yesterday 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”.
The Haitian government said Trump’s reported comments shows a “racist view of the Haitian community,” the Associated Press said.
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 Nigerian capital city of 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.”
The development came as the US president also came under fire for rejecting an invite to open a new US embassy in London.
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.”- Aljazeera.