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Hollande urges Trump to 'respect' principle of accepting refugees
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jan 28, 2017

Kurdish filmmaker cancels planned US visit over Trump actions
Los Angeles (AFP) Jan 27, 2017 - Citing President Donald Trump's visa crackdown, Kurdish filmmaker Hussein Hassan has scrapped plans to attend the US premiere of his critically acclaimed film on the Yazidi minority, it was announced Friday.

Jaie Laplante, director of the Miami Film Festival, where the Kurdish-Iraqi movie "The Dark Wind" is to be screened in March, said Hassan had decided to withdraw his visa application in protest at Trump's forthcoming executive orders that are set to suspend the US refugee program and restrict visas to citizens of certain countries, including Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

"One of Miami Film Festival's core values is to bridge cultural understanding, to provoke thought and discussion, and 'The Dark Wind' is one of the most timely, moving and important films in this year's festival," Laplante said.

"It is essential that roadblocks not be put in place that will prevent artists from the free discussion of their work, and equally essential that the world's artists are made to feel welcome in the United States."

Hassan's move comes days after the Iranian star of the Oscar-nominated film "The Salesman" said she would boycott the upcoming Academy Awards to protest what she calls Trump's racist policies.

"Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won't attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest," tweeted Taraneh Alidoosti, the film's 33-year-old lead actress.

Trump's impending executive order on visas is expected to ban citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from seeking entry into the United States for a month.

He is also expected to suspend the US refugee program for four months as officials draw up a list of low risk countries.

Hassan's film tells the tale of a young Yazidi couple preparing for their wedding when fighters from the Islamic State group attack their village.

The movie was inspired by the true-life massacre of thousands of Yazidis after IS took over the Sinjar area in Iraq in August 2014. Thousands of Yazidi women were abducted and turned into sex slaves during the IS campaign.

"The US are the closest and most important allies for Kurdistan," the film's producer Mehmet Aktas said in a statement.

"Now it seems to be impossible for a Kurdish artist to visit the US to present his work. As an act of peaceful protest, Hussein Hassan decided to withdraw from his visa application. We as Kurdish filmmakers hope that Donald Trump will acknowledge the Kurdish people," Aktas said.

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday warned his new US counterpart Donald Trump against adopting a protectionist stance and called on him to respect the principle of accepting refugees.

During a telephone conversation between the two leaders Hollande stressed the "economic and political consequences of a protectionist approach", the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order suspending the US refugee resettlement programme for 120 days.

"Faced with an unstable and uncertain world, withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response," Hollande was quoted as saying.

He added that defending democratic principles required compliance with "the principles on which it is founded, in particular the acceptance of refugees".

In addition to his freeze on refugee settlement Trump has also announced that visa applications from seven Muslim countries -- Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen - are on hold for at least 90 days.

Hollande also insisted on "the importance for the planet of the implementation of the Paris convention on global warming".

Trump has announced plans to undo climate policies and promote domestic energy development as part of his "America First" agenda.

The two leaders also discussed relations with Russia, with Hollande stressing "his wish to pursue and intensify dialogue on all subjects," while adding that the Western sanctions in place against Moscow over the situation in Ukraine should not be lifted.

Hollande and Trump "agreed to continue with their discussions on essential issues," according to the Elysee.

At a gathering of southern European Union leaders in Lisbon Saturday Hollande urged Europe to form a united front and provide a "firm" response to Trump.

Iraqi family barred from flying to US from Cairo
Cairo (AFP) Jan 28, 2017 - An Iraqi family was barred from flying from Cairo to New York on Saturday after US President Donald Trump signed an order restricting arrivals from seven Muslim countries.

Egyptian officials said the family had visas and were in transit when they were prevented from boarding the EgyptAir plane to New York's JFK airport.

Fuad Sharef, 51, and his wife and three children were instead forced to board a flight back to Arbil in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan, he told AFP.

Trump had on Friday signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

"I had sold my house, my car, my furniture. I resigned from work and so did my wife. I took my children out of school," said Sharef of the family's preparations to resettle in Nashville, Tennessee under a special immigrant visa.

Back in Arbil, the pharmaceutical industry manager, who had previously worked for an NGO subcontracted by the US aid agency, said he was devastated.

"Donald Trump destroyed my life. My family's life. I used to think America was a state of institutions but it's as though it's a dictatorship," he said.

"For a decision like this to come out and be implemented immediately, and against whom? Against a valid visa holder."

"I put my life at risk, working with the Americans at a time that it could have gotten you killed," he added.

The family had been barred at Cairo after a flight manifest was sent to JFK airport, which responded with instructions that they were not to board, according to airport officials.

EgyptAir's website has not provided updated travel advice for the United States.

Qatar Airways, one of the largest Middle East airlines, said on its website that citizens of those seven countries could still travel to the United States if they had a permanent residence permit.

The Qatari travel alert said government officials and their immediate family members, as well as representatives of international organisations were exempt from the restrictions.

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