Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’ Countries Account For Only 8% of World’s Muslims

By Patrick Goodenough | June 27, 2018 | 4:34 AM EDT

The total world Muslim population is estimated conservatively at 1.6 billion. (Photo: Screen capture/YouTube)

(CNSNews.com) – The countries targeted in President Trump’s immigration proclamation which the Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 ruling Tuesday, account for some eight percent of the world’s Muslims, and fewer that one-tenth of the countries that make up the bloc of Islamic states.

Roughly 132 million Muslims live in five of the seven countries affected by the proclamation – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – along with another approximately 1.4 million Christians and other non-Muslims, according to Pew Research Center figures for 2010.

In the other two countries affected by the restrictions, North Korea and Venezuela, Muslims comprise less than half a percent of the population, about 100,000 people in total. (Venezuela’s restrictions only apply to certain categories of government officials and their relatives.)

The total world Muslim population is estimated conservatively at 1.6 billion. (Pew’s figure for 2010 was 1.599 billion and its projected figure for 2020 is 1.907 billion.)

Using the conservative estimate of 1.6 billion, that means that approximately 8.2 percent of the world’s Muslims are potentially affected by Trump’s proclamation.

Moreover, a number of individuals from those countries who fall within categories of those most likely to want to travel to the U.S., are eligible for exemptions. They include Green Card holders, current visa holders, dual nationals traveling on passports of unaffected countries, diplomats, asylees and already-admitted refugees.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the president’s Sept. 2017 proclamation in a 5-4 decision. (Photo: CNSNews.com)

The proclamation also includes various carve-outs for non-immigrant visas for some of the affected countries.

The proclamation covers five Muslim-majority countries. Forty-two Muslim-majority countries are not covered, including the six countries with the biggest Muslim populations – Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Egypt and Turkey – which together account for well over half of the world’s Muslims.

(The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has 57 members, but ten of them belong to the bloc despite not having Muslim majorities. They are Gabon, Guyana, Uganda, Suriname, Togo, Mozambique, Cameroon, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau)

Trump’s September 2017 proclamation explained that a process of engagement with countries around the world had sought to encourage improvements in vetting procedures in those that were found to be wanting in that area.

The final country-specific decisions took into account factors including capacity and willingness to be cooperative, significant terrorist presence, as well as foreign policy, national security, and counterterrorism goals, it said.

The proclamation applied to eight countries, but Chad was removed last April.

In its ruling Tuesday, the Supreme Court majority noted that the proclamation was “expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion.”

“Plaintiffs and the dissent nonetheless emphasize that five of the seven nations currently included in the Proclamation have Muslim-majority populations,” the majority opinion said.

“Yet that fact alone does not support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.”

Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, as well as Somalia, Yemen and Libya, were identified by the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security as countries posing legitimate terrorism concerns. The determinations were made under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2015.

Iraq and Sudan were included in earlier Trump executive orders, but not in the September proclamation.

The court majority pointed to the removal of Iraq, Sudan and Chad from the list of affected countries as further factors supporting “the Government’s claim of legitimate national security interest.”

‘Anti-Muslim animus’

In a lengthy dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor (joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.) cited Trump’s public statements and social media actions and argued that “[t]aking all the relevant evidence together, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus, rather than by the Government’s asserted national-security justifications.”

Critics continue to call the travel restrictions a “Muslim ban.”

“The Muslim ban’s bigotry should have been as clear to the Supreme Court as it is to the Muslims demonized by it,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national executive director Nihad Awad. “Apparently, everyone but the Supreme Court can see the decision for what it is: an expression of animosity.”

Awad told a press conference the ruling “has given the Trump administration a free hand to re-inject discrimination against a particular faith back into our immigration system.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court just ratified Donald Trump’s ‘total and complete shutdown’ of Muslims entry into the United States,” tweeted Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who was the first Muslim to have been elected to Congress.

Ellison was referring to Trump’s appeal, while campaigning for the White House, for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

The GOP presidential candidate made the call days after the Dec. 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., perpetrated by a couple inspired by ISIS. The U.S.-born son of Pakistani migrants and his Pakistani-born wife – who entered the U.S. 17 months earlier on a fiancée visa – killed 14 people in an attack at a social services center.


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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow