Donald Trump’s reported remark branding Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations as “s***hole countries” has been branded racist by a UN human rights official.
“If confirmed these are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States,” spokesperson Rupert Coleville said.
“There is no other word you can use but ‘racist’.”
“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘s***holes’, whose entire populations who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
The US President made the comment during a meeting with congressional leaders in the Oval Office on Thursday, according to US media.
“Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?” Mr Trump said after being presented with a proposal to restore protections for immigrants from the countries in question.
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He asked to know why the US would not instead accept people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he had met with the day before.
The White House defended Mr Trump’s policies on immigration and failed to deny he had made such comments.
Mr Coleville added: “This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia.”
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The African Union (AU), a group representing all 55 countries on the continent, said it was “frankly alarmed” by the US President’s comments.
“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,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
“This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, compared Mr Trump’s comments to Nazism.
“To the Nazi’s, the purest Aryans were the Nordic people of Germany and Norway,” he wrote on Twitter, alluding to Mr Trump’s complaint that more Norwegians were not allowed into the US.
“Connection?” he added.
Mr Trump made immigration reform a central theme of his campaign and on Thursday was meeting with members of Congress in an attempt to t