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World reacts with anger after Trump calls Haiti and entire African continent 'shithole countries'

Every time Robert De Niro has insulted Trump – compilation ABC, CNN, GLAAD, Sarajevo Film Festival, Anonymous Content, Bloomberg, Getty Images

The world has reacted angrily to Donald Trump’s reported comments in which he called Haiti and African nations “shithole countries” during a discussion on immigration legislation.

A source briefed on Thursday’s (11 January) Oval Office meeting with lawmakers told CNN that, when discussing immigration from African countries, Trump asked: “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” It is believed the comment was also in reference to El Salvador.

He also asked “Why do we want people from Haiti here?” and said: “We should have more people from places like Norway.”

The comments were met with shock and anger from around the world, not least in Haiti where Paul Altidor, ambassador to the United States, said he and the Haitian government “vehemently condemn” Trump’s words. He said: “In the spirit of the people of Haiti we feel in the statements, if they were made, the president was either misinformed or miseducated about Haiti and its people.”

Former president of Haiti Laurent Lamothe was furious, tweeting: “SHAME ON TRUMP! The world is witnessing a new low today with this #ShitholeNations remark! totally unacceptable! uncalled for moreover it shows a lack a respect and IGNORANCE never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President! Enough is enough!!” Meanwhile some residents of Haiti fired back by tweeting Trump with photos of their s**thole.

African figures also celebrated their countries’ beauty, with South African TV anchor Leanne Manas tweeting: “Good morning from the greatest most beautiful “shithole country” in the world!!!” Kenyan political cartoonist Victor Ndula drew a White House map of Africa labelling the continent with titles such as “southern shithole” and “central shithole”.

The African Union said it was “frankly alarmed by the comments”. Spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said: “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. 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.”

Vicente Fox, Mexico’s former president, said Trump’s mouth was “the foulest shithole in the world” and added: “America’s greatness is built on diversity, or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?”

Meanwhile in America Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican senator, said in a statement: “If these comments are the President’s words they are disappointing to say the least…Our strength lies in our diversity, including those who came here from Africa, the Caribbean and every other corner of the world.”

Andrew Weinstein, chair of the Democrat Party Lawyers Council, pointed out the equivalent words of Trump’s predecessors. John F Kennedy said: “Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” And Barack Obama said: “We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once too.”

MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid shared her family’s story in an emotional Twitter message. She wrote: “I’m the proud daughter of immigrants from British Guyana and the Congo. My immigrant family – my cousins, aunts, uncles and my husband’s Jamaican family – have contributed MIGHTILY to this country. Yet Trump, of all people, views us as useless products of ‘shithole countries’.

“Well luckily, I don’t define myself or the worth of my family and community by what racist, angry, miserable, insecure, needy, inadequate people say.”

The reaction to her post showed the overwhelmingly emotional response to Trump’s comments. One person said they had stood in front of the TV sobbing after the story broke. Another thanked Reid, saying: “On a terrible night, we are so grateful for your voice.”

Meanwhile comedian Patton Oswalt pointed out some similar words from Trump in the past. He asked: Does anyone remember “Mexicans are rapists,” “bleeding out of her whatever” and “good people on both sides”? Trump said the latter quote when he defended the white nationalists who protested the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville.

Filmmaker Michael Moore said African countries could not be “shithole countries” because their president is not Trump, while American athlete Bernard Lagat said: “I’m a proud son of the shining continent called Africa. My heritage is deeply rooted in my Kenyan roots. Africa is NO shithole, Mr. trump.”

Others also shared their disgust at the comments. One Twitter user warned: “He said this at an immigration meeting with members of Congress. What words do you think he uses when he is talking with friends?”

Another sarcastically asked: “As a person from a ShitHole country, I still believe Americans made such a great choice in Donald Trump. It’s liberating to have a person who tells you frankly on what the USA feels about you as opposed to those who smile with you in the day & backstab you in the night.” And some joked that perhaps he also thinks the UK is a shithole after cancelling his trip to London.

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