Catholic Church leader criticises Trump travel ban

Vincent Nichols and Donald Trump Image copyright PA/Reuters
Image caption Cardinal Vincent Nichols said safety could "never be the overall and ultimate aim"

US President Donald Trump's travel ban will not improve safety in the country and could put Christians at risk in the Middle East, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said the ban supported the "false notion" that Islam and Christianity were in conflict.

This comes as the president's attempt to reinstate the ban for seven mostly Muslim countries was blocked on Friday.

Meanwhile, an ex-church leader accused Mr Trump's critics of "overreacting".

'Not secured by fear'

Mr Trump's executive order sought to suspend the US Refugee Admissions Programme for 120 days, as well as impose an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.

It also aimed to impose a 90-day visa suspension on anyone arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four's Westminster Hour, Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said he thought Mr Trump's ban would "increase the determination of terrorists to make US objects a target".

He said: "I think safety, in the long run, is not secured by fear, it's secured by improving relationships, it's secured by getting to know people around you, and in that sense opening up things, not shutting them down."

Cardinal Nichols acknowledged that political leaders had a duty to protect their country "but I think it's a question of how you exercise that duty".

"Safety can never be the overall and ultimate aim because if we try and live safely by simply identifying others as our enemies then we live in an increasingly closed mentality, a closed environment, and that is not a good way to live," he added.

'Hysterical overreaction'

But the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, accused critics of Mr Trump of a "hysterical overreaction" after protests against the president were held across the UK.

Writing in the Sunday Express, Lord Carey said: "British opposition and hysterical overreaction to Trump itself poses a danger to the constructive relationship we should have with him, or indeed, any new and untested American president.

"He and his team are learning the art of governing.

"Though the executive order banning travel from certain destabilised Muslim-majority countries has misfired, the principle behind the order is surely not in itself wrong."

You can listen to Westminster Hour at 22:00 GMT on Sunday here.

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