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Barack Obama Speaks Out Against Donald Trump's Travel Ban

'..American values are at stake.'

31/01/2017 08:37 | Updated 31 January 2017

Barack Obama has spoken out against President Donald Trump’s closure of the US border to immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries, in a startling break with tradition for a former president.

Obama highlighted the weekend of protests against Trump’s Muslim refugee ban in a statement issued by his staff, but stopped short of mentioning his successor by name.

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Barack Obama has spoken out against Donald Trump's Muslim refugee ban

Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president, said: “President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.

“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”

Obama, the statement continued, “fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion”.

The timing of Monday’s statement, just ten days since Obama left office, represents a break with tradition for former presidents.

Ex commanders-in-chief rarely comment publicly on their successors’ policies or on frontline politics more broadly.

And despite having been issued during the daily White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not respond to shouted questions about it from reporters.

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Sean Spicer did not comment on Obama's statement during his Monday evening press briefing

Angered protesters demonstrated against Trump’s Executive Order across the world over the weekend, with thousands taking to the streets across the UK on Monday.

Trump’s Executive Order barred entry to the US for those from seven predominately Muslim countries - Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - for 90 days.

Prime Minister Theresa May has faced a barrage of criticism for failing to condemn the order, which was signed shortly after she left Washington having met with Trump last week.

Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Angered protesters demonstrated against Trump’s Executive Order across the world

More than one million people have signed a petition demanding May withdraw her offer of a state visit.

And earlier in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson was urged to “have the guts to speak out” against the US president.

The statement will be seen as the clearest sign yet of the role Obama, who at 55 is one of the youngest former presidents in modern times, may play outside of the White House.

Both he and his wife Michelle Obama have set up a joint office, which will run alongside their organisations, Organising For Action and the Obama Foundation.

Obama is reportedly on vacation and it was not immediately clear where he made his statement from.

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